A new year, a new (lighter) you

Over-indulged this holiday season? Need to shed some extra weight? Whether you suffer from a health ailment due to being overweight or just want to look and feel better, the following health tips can help you shed the excess pounds and make your health a top priority in 2011! 

  1. Write it up and break it down! Research shows that setting specific heath goals is useful. People who make resolutions by writing them down or writing up an informal contract are ten times more likely to reach their goals than people who don’t. Unfortunately, however, after one month, only six out of ten people continue to follow the resolutions. To make things easier for you, take mini-steps by adopting small changes every week instead of forcing yourself to change your entire lifestyle from the beginning. It’s easier to change one habit at a time instead of five at a time. Try this: for the first week, switch to sparkling water (no more soft drinks or alcohol!), for the second week, add an extra 20-minute brisk walk to your daily routine, and so on. By breaking things down, it’s easier to reach your goals.
  2. Eat your breakfast. Patients often tell me they skip breakfast because they think they can lose weight that way. However, studies show that the opposite can be true. Not eating breakfast makes you hungry later, which leads to binge eating at lunch and dinner. Always make time for a healthy morning meal, like fruit, high-fiber cereal with low-fat milk or an egg-white omelet with veggies.
  3. Be aware of portion sizes. Restaurants tend to supersize portions so when dining out, split restaurant servings in half. Slowly enjoy your food and ask yourself if you are full after that half serving before digging into the second half. Use salad or appetizer plates and smaller glasses to downsize servings. Take snacks out of the container so you can eyeball how much you consume instead of eating them directly from the container. 
  4. Ensure adequate sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body under-produces the hormone leptin, which tells you when you’re full, and overproduces the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. Getting enough sleep helps you feel rested and full so remember to catch your zzz’s at night!
  5. Eat protein. Protein keeps you fuller for a longer period of time. It also helps to preserve muscle mass. The type of protein you choose is important- go for healthier choices such as lean meat, yogurt, fish, beans or nuts.
  6. Have more vegetables and fruits. Vegetables and fruits are not only rich in nutrients and antioxidants, but they are also high in fiber and water, which can give you a feeling a fullness, prevent constipation and help aid in digestion. Have a variety, but beware of bananas and avocados which, although very nutritious, contain more calories compared to other fruits.
  7. It’s about your health. Remember, at the end of the day, your health is more important than the numbers on the scale. As you adopt better eating and exercise habits, losing weight should be but a side effect of these healthier lifestyle changes. Strive to eat right and be more physically active every day. Take time to de-stress and relax/ meditate every day. Find others who can support you on your “back-to-health” journey.
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