The start of a brand new year is a time for new beginnings. Resolutions to eat better and increasing your physical activity are a great place to start. To promote success, a proper action plan that has clear, measurable objectives, tracks your progress and emulates healthy habits will cultivate positive returns. Develop and follow your plan and results are sure to follow!
There are two types of goals – long and short term. Long-term goals focus on the “big picture” and should take six months to a year to complete. Losing 35 pounds or being able to run a 5K race fit this category. The second type, short-term goals, are stepping stones towards long term goal(s). Lifestyle modifications such as exercising 3 times a week for 30 minutes or drinking 2 fewer carbonated beverages per week are examples. All goals need to be realistic, measurable and have a completion date.
Keep it simple! All goals should adhere to the SMART principle:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time-Orientated
Importance of Journaling
While commonly referred to as painful and inconvenient, journaling truly can be the key to successful long-term weight loss and improved fitness. Just like monitoring a financial budget, a “calorie budget” is something most Americans could benefit from keeping. If you want to lose weight or maintain your weight loss, a journal may be the key you need…yet are avoiding! Most of us do not have unlimited funds for our finances; this holds true for calories too. By not enforcing limits, we suffer negative repercussions.
An effective journal details when, why and how you eat, promotes accountability for choices and identifies trouble areas which should be turned into target areas for improvement. An exercise log allows you to monitor minutes and exercise intensity to maximize your time while avoiding the affects of over-training. Logging what foods you eat will make you aware of what you are eating along with pinpointing where you may not be getting enough of certain nutrients such as fiber or vitamin C.
Since it can be difficult to recall what you ate throughout the day, it is best to record your intake immediately. If you do not have access to your food journal at that moment, you could always jot your food or beverage down on a napkin, send yourself a text or take a photo of the meal with your phone and then transfer into your journal later.
Healthy Habits = Healthy Lifestyle
Since its inception, the National Weight Control Registry has surveyed more than 10,000 adults that have lost a minimum of 30 pounds and kept it off for at least 1 year. Examination reveals similar characteristics to their success:
98% – Food intake modification
94% – Increase physical activity
90% – Average 1 hour of physical activity throughout the day
78% – Eat breakfast daily
75% – Weigh in 1 time a week
Combine education and proper planning with motivation and your possibilities are endless! Stick with it, hold yourself accountable and before you know it, those resolutions will become daily, healthy habits.