Think way back to those New Year’s resolutions you made almost 12 months ago. How did they go? Did you get ‘er done or did you completely forget about your resolutions come March? Either way, this year can be bigger, better, and most importantly, healthier than last year. Since I get emails, tweets, and Facebook messages every day asking how to finally ditch those unwanted pounds and get in shape, I’ve rounded up and answered your most common questions about how to start the year on a healthy foot. Here’s to your healthiest and happiest year ever!
For someone who is just starting out on a weight loss journey, what is your best piece of advice?
Weight loss takes time. It’s not going to happen all at once, easily or without you working your butt off (figuratively and literally!). Write yourself a note or commit right now that even when you aren’t seeing the results you want as quickly as you want, you will stay consistent. Consistency is the ultimate key and so many of us call it quits before we give ourselves the chance to make a difference. If it helps, toss that scale into a back closet and only pull it out once a week or even once a month. This might sound counterintuitive, but when people are fixated on those three numbers and how those numbers report daily, self-image can take a rollercoaster ride. Instead, find other markers of “success.” For instance, were you able to workout 5 minutes longer today? Are you clothes fitting a little better? Did you say no to an indulgence today? Be proud of those moments and know that even if you’re not seeing outward change yet, you’re still doing a good thing for your body.
But how can I tell if I lost weight? I want to know if I succeeded in my weight loss resolution!
Well, you can use the scale…just not every day because it tends to dictate our mood. Instead, zip up your jeans! Remember, your weight can vary depending on the time of the month, hormones, sodium intake and other factors. A more accurate gauge of how you are managing your weight is to put on and zip up those jeans in your closet. Your jeans could suddenly be baggy (score!); fit as they always have (terrific!); suddenly be snug (red flag!); or you can’t even get them on (alarm bell is ringing for behavior change!). This is often a better gauge than your scale.
What fun goals can I set for myself that just happen to have a benefit of weight loss?
Make fitness fun by signing up for something of your choice! It becomes a way to train and reach a goal, workout with friends, contribute to a cause, etc. Commit to a race or event upfront by paying the entry fee, and then training. You just may get hooked on the energy of the crowds and the sense of accomplishment you will feel crossing the finish line. Or try joining an online fitness community. Just find something you consider fun that will make you look forward to sweating instead of sitting on the couch!
I’ve been exercising here and there but want to ramp up my workouts in the New Year. What should I do?
HIIT workouts! High Intensity Interval Training helps burn fat, build muscle, and keep your metabolism revved all day long through intense bursts of exercise paired with brief moments of rest. HIIT routines are a great addition to your weekly workouts if you’re primarily doing steady state cardio and weight lifting; they help get your heart pumping and will take your calorie burn up a notch. Learn more about how HIIT can help you lose weight this year:
Another great way to take your workouts to the next level? Find a compatible fitness partner! Having a “workout buddy” can be the difference between slogging through your workout and really pushing yourself. A little friendly competition can help you test your limits and really commit to your workouts. It’s a proven fact that people will more often adhere to an appointment with a friend or family member more than an appointment with themselves. A fitness buddy can be a co-worker, a friend, a family member or a personal trainer. Or even a virtual one through an online workout program! You choose what will work best for you.
Let’s talk food. How can I eat cleaner in the year ahead?
It sounds cliche, but eat more home cooked meals! The more food you prepare yourself that doesn’t come in a box or from a restaurant, the easier it is to know exactly what went into it. At restaurants, you can be dealing with a lot of excess sodium, fat, or oversized portions, and with packaged foods you can run into artificial ingredients or hidden sugars.
Here’s my number one tip: Use Sundays as prep days.
Get enough produce and staple needed for the week. Make double or triple of your meal, and freeze the extra for future use. Grill up extra chicken breasts and use them in salads and one-pot dishes for the rest of the week. Make a batch of quinoa and keep it in the fridge for easy lunches, burritos, and stir-fry. Freeze a few fruit smoothies to grab on the way out the door in the early mornings. When you’re prepared, you will be less likely to swing by a fast food restaurant on the way home from work or heat up a pizza from your freezer.
Check out my e-book, Get Started With Clean Eating, for more info on how to get on track with fresh, simple, and delicious meals.
What should I be snacking on?
Protein, protein, protein! Got that? Almonds, Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese, or a protein shake are all awesome snacks that fuel your body when you need a boost. If you’re craving something sweet, fruit dipped in 70 percent or higher dark chocolate will instantly do the trick. If you want something to munch on, try a bag of popcorn (not the microwaveable kind, but a brand like Boom Chicka Pop!) When you have healthy snacks on-hand such as these, you’ll be less likely to overdose on a bag of chips, a box of cookies, or your kiddo’s leftover mac and cheese.
What’s are the easiest healthy habits to start January 1st?
- Lemon Water. Every single morning, before I eat or drinking anything—and that includes my coffee—I reach for a big glass of lemon water. I squeeze about half a lemon into 16 to 20 ounces of room temperature water and sip. So simple, yet so good for your body. Lemon water balances your pH levels and gives your digestive and immune systems a boost.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. I also take a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar and dilute it in a glass of water. There are so many benefits to Apple Cider Vinegar, from boosting your immune system to keeping your body alkaline and helping you stay regular.
- Good ole’ H20. Most importantly, no matter what healthy things you’re adding to your water, aim for at least 64 ounces of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated helps you stay energized and healthy; plus it keeps you from over-eating when your body is really just thirsty.
- Walk For Weight Loss. If you’re just getting started with a renewed commitment to healthy living, it can start with something as simple as walking. Walking is low-impact, gets your heart pumping (if you’re walking with some intensity) and helps strengthen your bones. Start walking with a friend every day and see how you feel. You can use these 3 different walking workouts to mix up your routine.
- Meet Some New Veggies. Don’t let clean eating get boring. Start incorporating a new veggie into your meals each week. You can use our 28-Day Veggie Challenge as a guide to learning about the different kinds of vegetables (some you may never have heard of!) that each offer different, amazing nutrients and unique health benefits. Veggie variety is the spice of life!
Whew! That was a lot of information. How do I start?
Write out a half dozen steps you can take every day to take your life in a completely new and positive direction. How many cardio workouts will you do per week and how many strength training? (Check out my Exercise Library and Workout Hub for tons of calorie-burning ideas!) How will you incorporate five servings of fruits and veggies into your daily diet? Who will be your accountability partner? What’s your plan to drink eight glasses of water a day? Will you make a smoothie for lunch and skip the fast food? You success exists in your daily decisions.
Your question didn’t make the cut? Check out my ebook Get Started With Weight Loss! I’ve answered 50 of your most popular weight loss, nutrition, and fitness tips to help make real changes that last well beyond the first week of January. Here’s to making this year your healthiest yet!