Top Ten Tips for Starting Your New Healthy Life

Together, we can put down the chips, step away from the couch and start a healthy, new life. With these 10 tips, you can be slipping into a smaller pair of jeans in no time!

Stop Dieting
“DIET” is a four-letter word.  Throw it out.  You don’t ever need to use it again.  Making healthy choices is a way of eating that stays with you forever.   Think of your commitment to being healthier as starting new habits, not a short-term diet.  Diets don’t work.  You may lose weight, but most people put it all back on.  It’s looking at changing your habits for a lifetime that can break that cycle and keep you at a healthy weight.

Read Nutrition Labels
Reading and understanding nutrition labels is one of the first things you need to learn. From counting calories, to understanding the importance of fiber and vitamins in your diet, the nutrition facts can tell us quite a bit about the food we eat.

Get Moving
Being active is the key to losing weight and keeping it off.  Choose something you like to do.  The choices are nearly endless—join a gym, walk, run, bicycle, canoe, garden, dance, use your Wii, move to the Exercise Channel, take yoga, swim, play ball, do jumping jacks—whatever it takes to get you moving.  And, there is one very important rule to follow in choosing what you want to do, you must have fun!   Without fun, your activity plan is doomed. 

If you haven’t moved for a long time, start slowly.  You don’t have to feel the burn to make a difference.  A 10-minute walk every day can be a great start.  The secret is to do it every day or nearly every day.   Work your way up to a longer walk over time.    How much you spend is up to you, because being active is free. 

If You Bite It, Write It
Writing down everything you eat and drink and when you consumed it can help you lose more weight.  It’s proven to work and so simple.   You can do it on a pad of paper on your refrigerator door, on a copy of the Food Log offered here or in a computer- it doesn’t matter.   And, everything counts.  Write it all down- drinks, candy, gum – everything. 

Practice Portion Control
Dust off your measuring cups and spoons and if you have a kitchen food scale, drag it out.  Even if you’ve measured portions a thousand times, do it again now.  It can be amazing how big a serving really is.  For instance, a serving of meat is really about the size of a deck of cards. 

Eat Enough and Eat Often
Skipping meals can actually make you gain weight.  Eating 5 to 6 smaller meals throughout the day keeps your body more satisfied so you won’t be tempted to splurge.   Yes, it sounds backwards, but don’t skip meals. 

Snack Smart
Step away from the vending machine! No longer should your afternoon snack consist of a soda and candy bar. Instead, find great tasting, healthy foods like an apple, baby carrots or a handful of pretzels.  Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to starve. 

Five a Day
Eat 5 to 7 fruits and vegetables a day.  It will help keep you feeling full and they are great for you.  (Mom was right!)  Try to eat different colors of fruits and vegetables too.  This helps you get lots of different vitamins and minerals.  For instance, you could have an orange (orange), spinach salad (green)with sliced squash (yellow), grapes (purple), sliced tomato (red) and green beans (green).   If you ate this, you would have had 6 servings of fruits and vegetables in 5 different colors!
 
Set Small and Large Goals
Whether you want to lose 10 pounds or 100 pounds, start slowly, setting short and long-term goals. It may be overwhelming to say from the beginning that you are losing 100 pounds. Set the 100 pounds as a long-term goal and set short-term goals by saying you want to lose 20 pounds in the next 3 months. Besides weight loss, set goals that will keep you active such as completing a 5K in six months or going on a 5-mile bike ride this summer. Goals are easy ways to track your progress and help keep you focused.

Drink Fluids
Drinking fluids, like water, beverages that do not contain sugar and tea can help you eat healthier by giving you something to consume while skipping high calorie snacks.  Some fell like drinks help them feel full.  While there is no proof drinking large amounts of water helps with weight loss or health, it can be a tool to help you stay on track.   Be careful about drinking juice or “energy water.”  Both are full of sugar.  Check the label and drink only beverages that are very low calorie.