Happy New Year: Make small lifestyle changes for a healthy 2010

Many people set New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, which is a great idea, but is sometimes hard to accomplish. People may join a gym or start a diet at the beginning of the year, but find it hard to stick with longer than a few weeks or months.

When setting a New Year’s resolution this year, instead of trying the newest diet or spending money on a gym membership, try making small lifestyle changes that will be easier to stick with and may help you to be more successful, too.

Instead of eating diet food all day, begin by eating three meals (or five small meals) per day. Keep the meals well-balanced and properly portioned, but don’t skip meals. Your metabolism can actually increase when you feed it regularly.

If you don’t have much time or are not very hungry at meal time, try having a protein shake, like Ensure or Glucerna, or make your own with a pack of Carnation Instant Breakfast and low-fat or skim milk. These products are great for providing quick nutrition.

If you get hungry between meals, have a healthy snack to avoid overeating at mealtime. You may have to reprogram your mind for this one. Many of us are taught not to snack before meals or, “you will ruin your dinner.” In reality, you are more likely to overeat at mealtime if you are starving. So, go ahead and have that snack.

If you regularly consume sweet beverages, try eliminating them from your diet. There are many choices of diet drinks available on the market that are great tasting, and by switching to diet drinks or water, you may be able to lose 10 to 15 pounds in a year.

When eating out, try sharing a meal with someone or take half of your meal to go. Many restaurants serve portions that are larger than what we actually need. Sharing your meal or taking half of it with you will not only save you calories, it also will save you money.

At home, try serving your food on individual plates instead of leaving the serving dishes on the table during the meal. By keeping the food out of sight, you will be more likely to keep it out of mind.

When it comes to snacking on things like chips, pretzels, cookies or ice cream, leave the container in the kitchen. Remove your portion from the bag or box, and then put it away to avoid overeating.

Try taking a 30-minute walk or run every other day if you are unable to join a gym, or you could split the time into three 10-minute sessions spread throughout the day if that works better for you. Exercise helps you burn calories and has the added benefit of relieving stress, and wouldn’t less stress be better in the new year?

So this year, take a different approach when setting those New Year’s resolutions. If it doesn’t feel natural at first, stick with it. It will pay off. It takes approximately 21 times to make something into a habit. Try making changes that will be more likely to last not just a few weeks or months, but a lifetime.

Barbie Haas is a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator for the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center.

© 2009 blounttoday.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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