Some of you may be in denial that it’s September. Have no fear, summer is not over yet! There’s still time to soak up some fun and sun, but the cool thing about September is that it’s often sort of a “new beginning” time of year.
Any month of the year is a good month to begin making healthy choices in your life, but after the closing of summer travel, vacations, and loose schedules, you may feel ready for a more structured routine. If you have children, the back-to-school-groove kicks in; and even if you don’t have children, the fall season seems to universally be a time to ramp up work, and get projects done.
Setting Realistic Goals
One of the reasons people fail at changing their lifestyle habits is because they don’t set realistic goals that they can maintain all year long. #chewthefacts
September is a great time to set up a good routine, before the holidays sneak up on you (Note: please don’t buy the Halloween candy yet – even though it’s already out in stores!). Small changes will result in improved health (lower blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol, lower disease risk) over time, and small changes can add up to big outcomes. Splurging is okay, but it can’t last three months…When you adopt a plan you can live with all year round, you are setting yourself up for success.
Try not to fall into these diet traps:
- 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, do a spin class, and lift weights for 30 minutes every day!” Your body won’t handle it, nor like it. The negative body messages (excessive soreness, heavy breathing) will get you down. Start with a short walk. Start gradually – sign up for a low-impact aerobic or yoga class.
- 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 burn more calories.
- 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 simply have to change some habits related to your eating.
- Don’t give yourself a time limit. Saying “I will lose 15 pounds by Christmas” will only make you anxious and pressured to lead a miserable life for the next 3 months.
- Don’t under or over-estimate exercise. Both an aerobic workout (one that increases your heart rate) and weight bearing exercise is important to long term weight loss and management, but you have to reduce calories too. “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.”
- Don’t underestimate the need for support.
Work on doing this instead:
- Set realistic goals. Work on small goals, 2-3 at a time. Say “I will eat 2 pieces of fruit or have a yogurt 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.
- 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, choose foods naturally high in fiber, with volume, and eat often.
- Enjoy eating. Take your time when you eat, enjoy every bite. Splurge on small portions of your favorites without guilt.
- Make healthy choice easy. Prioritize an hour a day to prep food. Yes, it does take some time to prepare fruits and vegetables. And they are a cornerstone of a healthy diet. Plan it into your day. You can prep things ahead on an evening off so it’s easy to grab the healthy choice. You can also choose to spend a little more for prepped items in the grocery store (cut peppers, cut melons, broccoli flowerettes, pre-washed green beans, pre-washed salad greens).
- Add a salad a day. You do not have to live on salad! But salads are a quick and easy way to add veggies and fruits. Think of the greens as the canvas for a lot of other nutrition!
- Find Exercise Accountability: Having a good friend to meet you for your walk or exercise class is priceless. Consider a personal trainer to get you started and keep you on track. Enlist the whole family to make healthier food choices. This can keep you all committed.
- Set aside an hour a week to read about healthy eating, or plan out how you’ll achieve your goals this week.
- 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.
- 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.