The dawn of the New Year often has us reflecting on the past and looking ahead to the future. For many, January means (finally!) eating right, (finally!) exercising regularly, and (finally!) investing seriously in a healthy future. While resolutions can be a powerful and positive habit, they can also lead to disappointment and shame if we fail to meet our goals. Instead of vowing to lose 10 pounds this month, set yourself up for lifelong success by creating a thorough plan for changing your behavior, and by following these helpful tips.
Most of us know by now that diets simply don’t work. There are neurological, hormonal, and biological changes that occur in our body when we restrict calorie intake; these changes succeed in making us hungrier, harder to satiate, and slowing our metabolism. Unfortunately, most people blame themselves for failing to lose the weight or keeping it off. The guilt of not meeting your goals doesn’t do your physical or mental health any good.
Instead of declaring sweeping changes to your diet, start small. One week, set aside time for breakfast every day if this isn’t already in your routine. Another week, add one new vegetable to your diet if you suffer from veggie illiteracy. Eating healthy should become a gradual way of life, not a temporary and unattainable plan. Remember, it’s progress, not perfection, that pays off.
Don’t deprive yourself
It’s no secret that restrictive dieting is often stressful. Unfortunately, it can also lead to overindulgence, fatigue, and often a slowdown of metabolism. Whether you are tempted to cut out huge swaths of macronutrients, or just your beloved guilty pleasures, it’s important to not completely deprive yourself of the foods you enjoy. If mac n’ cheese is your favorite food, don’t swear it off forever. Instead, choose to view it as the treat it is, and reserve it for special occasions (even if special occasion means a cold Tuesday night in front of the TV after a long day at work). Limit your portions of your favorite-but-maybe-not-great-for-you foods, and try to enjoy them as much as possible, without the guilt. Remember, everything in moderation, including moderation.
Practice intuitive eating
Though the concept may sound simple, this may be the biggest challenge to healthy eating. Intuitive eating means listening, and I mean really listening to your body and how you’re feeling. If you’re hungry, try to hear what your body is craving. Is it protein? Fresh veggies? Pizza? Believe it or not, your cravings will often tell you exactly what your body needs at the time. Follow this beginners guide to make peace with food and eating. Remember, your body is always talking to you, you just have to stop and listen.