It is late January already – have you given up on your New Year’s health and fitness goals yet? Statistics show that the majority of us forget our goals by around January 20, meaning we slip back into our old (bad) habits.
If you are serious about weight loss this year, here are some tips to keep you ticking along with that goal.
1. Keep a food journal
This is the first step I take with my health coaching clients, and research has shown that using a food journal can assist with weight loss.
Many people don’t realise what (and how much) they are putting in their mouths every day. By writing it down and having it on paper, you can keep yourself more accountable as to what you eat. It also may prompt you to eat less – that second scoop of ice cream seems less appealing when you have to write it down.
2. Set a realistic goal
If your goal is to lose 5 kilograms in one week, you are just setting yourself up for failure. Likewise if you have a vague goal to just “lose weight”. Be specific and realistic about your weight loss goals. Factor in upcoming events that may curtail your progress and upset your routine, such as parties and trips. Try to plan allowances for these days, and carry on with your routine as usual.
3. Be smart about your workouts
Don’t spend hours in the gym. Get crafty and engage in short, hard bouts of exercise, like High Intensity Interval Training. This method can help shed body fat, and rev up metabolism.
4. Weight train
Don’t be scared of the weight room. Regular readers know that I am big on resistance training. It boosts metabolism, and is the quickest way to tone those problem areas.
5. Make healthy food swaps
Swap pasta for spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. Use avocado or hummus instead as a healthy spread, or try fresh Medjool dates instead of sugar if you are craving something sweet.
6. Stop overeating
Many of us are great with our eating habits during the day, only to find the wheels falling off at night. Practice the French method of eating – eat heavy to light, with lunch being the main meal of the day, and dinner something light you eat to carry you through until morning.
Once you have finished your evening meal, consider the kitchen closed. This means no more snacking, or picking at left over food. Have a cup of herbal tea if you want something to keep you occupied and your mind off food. Another good trick is to brush your teeth – you will be less tempted to eat if you have fresh minty breath.
7. Practice mindful eating
Before you wolf down that meal, stop to assess how hungry you really are, and whether you are simply eating out of habit, or boredom.
When you do eat, sit down to your food with no distractions, and take the time to truly savour your food, appreciating every bite. Food takes around 20 minutes to reach the stomach, sending a signal that we are full. By eating slowly, you will reach this level of satiety more quickly, and will be less likely to overeat.
8. Drink more water
Many people mistake hunger for thirst. Next time you want to reach for that mid-morning muffin, drink a big glass of water instead. Drinking water helps keep us full, which in turn means we eat less.
9. Change your mindset
Adopt a positive frame of mind about weight loss. Losing weight is as much a mental battle as as a physical one, so envisage yourself achieving your goals and you are more likely to get there. Post reminders and motivation in places around your house – put a photo of you at your ideal weight on your fridge or pantry cupboard as a constant reminder of your goals. When you see this constant motivation, you will be less likely to overeat.
10. Enlist a friend and tell the world
Don’t keep your health goals to yourself. If no one knows, no one can keep you accountable when you fail to achieve them. Organise fitness sessions with a friend, and tell your loved ones about your goals so you don’t feel guilty about saying no to Mum’s chocolate cake.
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