I don’t really like to present things in a negative light, but sometimes there are habits or perspectives that you should shift. Life can be complicated, and it’s easy to make a lot for why “now’s not a good time” to lose weight, or exercise more, or change behaviors. Any month of the year is a good month to begin making healthy choices in your life. Small changes will result in improved health. Losing even small amounts of weight can bring blood pressure down, lower blood cholesterol, and reduce the burden on your heart and your joints. Not to mention lowering your risk for diabetes.
Keep these Do’s and Don’ts in mind.
Don’t set unrealistic goals. If you haven’t exercised in fifteen years, don’t say “Okay, next week I’m going to walk 10 miles and lift weights for 30 minutes every day, and go to a boot camp class” Your body won’t handle it, nor like it. The negative body messages (excessive soreness, heavy breathing) will get you down. Slowly ease back into exercise you enjoy.
- Don’t quit eating. If you go on a crash diet, you will lower your metabolic rate. This will cause you to burn fewer calories. Your goal is to keep your body efficient.
- Don’t say: “I’m going on a diet” Realize that you can both enjoy your favorite foods, but also try some new ones. You are not going on a diet. You’re simply switching up some habits related to your eating.
- Don’t give yourself a time limit. Saying “I will lose 30 pounds by Christmas” will only make you anxious and pressured to lead a miserable life for the next months.
- Don’t underestimate exercise. Yes you have to create a calorie deficit, but exercise matters. Both an aerobic workout (one that increases your heart rate) and weight bearing exercise is important to long term health. Stay strong!
- Don’t underestimate the need for support. Having a good friend to exercise with is priceless. This can keep you both committed.
- Don’t sabotage yourself or put yourself down. While it may take a while once you start changing your dietary habits and exercising, doing nothing gets you nowhere. Set reasonable goals and don’t get upset. Slow progress is still progress.
- Do set realistic goals. Work on small goals, 2-3 at a time. Say “I will eat 2 pieces of fruit every day” and “I will take a 20 minute walk, and stretch afterward, 3-4 days a week.” Gradually working on goals leads to success and confidence. Keep a list, and check things off.
- Do eat! You have to eat to lose weight. Digestion burns calories, so shoot for 3 small meals with 2-3 healthy snacks in between. Choose well, and eat often.
- Do start enjoying your food. Take your time when you eat, enjoy every bite. Splurge on small portions of your favorites without guilt.
- Do be patient. Weight loss takes time. If you begin making better choices in your diet, and exercise regularly, you will absolutely see results. Life happens in between. Your daughter may get married, you may go on vacation, and a holiday may come up. These are times to enjoy, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be in control. Enjoy special times then resume your best habits the next day.
- Do start exercising more. If you haven’t exercised in a while, start with walking. Set short-term goals. Begin with a walk around the block or just a 20-minute walk at a comfortable pace. Then add five minutes a week to your routine. Over time, increase your speed. After a month, add 15 minutes of hand weights 3-4 times a week. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so start building muscle. This is helpful for the balance and strength that supports daily activities in your life.
- Do consider a personal trainer or nutrition coach to help you reach your goals. A little support can go a long way.
- Do stay positive. Think about what you are doing, not just the long-term results. Focus on the healthy dietary changes you are making and the exercise you have added to your lifestyle.