Eating Well: Take A Monthly Step To Keep Resolutions
Beth Cecil, Dietitian
Lose weight? Join a gym? Eat healthier? Get fit? The New Year means millions of Americans will set resolutions just like these. While easy to make, resolutions often prove very challenging to keep.
I'll admit it: I'm guilty, too, of making grandiose plans, setting goals to change them overnight, then struggling to maintain them long-term. Perhaps our problem is not in making these big plans but in how we go about it.
A step-by-step method may be a more logical approach to improving our diet and lifestyle. Instead of setting out to do several things at one time, pick one habit each month to work on. In a year from now you may find you have developed healthy habits that will stay with you for years to come.
I'll help you get started. Feel free to move things around to suit your healthy lifestyle goals.
- January: Start keeping a food and activity log (either on paper or electronically). Becoming more aware of your eating and exercise habits is the first step to making changes.
- February: Increase your physical activity. The log you started in January can help you assess your exercise habits. Start moving, increase the amount of time you are active or up your intensity.
- March: Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables (Use that log to assess your current intake). A helpful resource is http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ which can help you determine how many servings you need each day along and with other great tips.
- April: Weigh and measure all the foods and beverages you consume. Dust off that old food scale and pull out your measuring cups. Try this for a month so that you can get an "eye" for standard serving sizes and reduce your intake of oversized portions.
- May: Make the calorie connection. There are 3,500 calories in a pound. To lose a pound a week, you need a 500 calorie a day deficit. Read labels, use healthier cooking methods, eat smaller portions and move more. Remember, your log is an excellent tool for maintaining your calorie goals.
- June: Are family reunions, picnics and weddings on your calendar this summer? Make a plan to be successful at this summer's social events by simply making a plan. Don't arrive famished, position yourself away from the food and drink plenty of water.
- July: Plan ahead when eating out so you don't overeat. Americans eat an average of one-third of their meals away from home. The result is larger portions and more calories. Eat more meals at home or prepare strategies for more healthful meals out ahead of time.
- August: Assess your eating style. Do you eat too fast, go all day without eating or mindlessly
eat while doing other activities? These are all behaviors that can easily lead to overeating. Take time this month to record you eating style and then assess for possible changes. A great tool for this: a log.
- September: Evaluate your eating environment. If hard-to-resist foods are often highly visible or available, you're much more likely to overeat them. Chips on the counter, ice cream tubs in the freezer or a handy snack drawer can challenge your weight management journey. Fill your environment with healthier food choices.
- October: Are people in your life sabotaging your efforts? You know them — they bring you cookies, encourage you to go out for lunch, or eat tempting foods in front of you. Develop a strategy to manage your eating influencers or just ask them for support.
- November: Here is it again, that pesky log. Keeping a thought and feeling journal when you eat, though, can be key as the first step to breaking emotional eating chains. Keep track to help you determine what you are really hungry for.
- December: The holiday season is here. Set a goal to maintain your weight by sticking to an exercise routine and practicing the good habits you have developed over the year.
As Robert J. Collier wrote, "Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out."
Beth Cecil, RDN, LD, is certified in food allergy management and is a Lifestyle Coach for the Owensboro Health Diabetes Prevention Program. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Management.
Learn more about Nutrition & Weight Management services at Owensboro Health or read previous Eating Well columns by Beth.
*This article was originally published on January 7, 2016 in the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer.