Thursday, January 06, 2011

New Year, New Resolutions...

Well, hello again! If you’re like me, you might be starting 2011 a few pounds heavier. After nearly two weeks of holiday-related food and beverage excess, especially thanks to a family wedding in Texas, I’m jonesing to get back into a healthier routine. It’s just hard finding the motivation this week, especially since my local gym is currently packed with all those New Year’s resolution folks, who are making it very hard to get into a fitness class or to even find an unused elliptical machine. After all, this is the time of year when many people gear up to lose weight -- typically only to drop it by the time February rolls around. Please don't be one of those people. This year, stick to those healthy lifestyle resolutions. USA Today has a great article offering practical advice on how to shed some of those pesky pounds and commit to those goals. Here are a few highlights:

1. Set a realistic weight-loss goal. Most experts recommend aiming for half a pound to 2 pounds a week.

2. Keep track. Dieters who keep track of everything they eat lose twice as much weight as those who don't, research shows.

3. Motivate yourself. Get a pair of jeans or pants that are too tight and hang them in the kitchen instead of the closet to keep yourself inspired.

4. Keep produce on hand. Place a bowl of vegetables such as broccoli, snap peas, cucumbers or carrot sticks in the refrigerator. You can eat them as a snack or when preparing meals to take the edge off your hunger

5. Move it to lose it. Research shows that people who do physical activities such as walking or biking for two to four hours a week during weight-loss efforts lose an extra 3 to 5 pounds over a year.

6. Pay attention to portions. A 3-ounce portion of meat, poultry or fish is about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards; 1 teaspoon of butter or margarine, a standard postage stamp; a cup of cold cereal, berries or popcorn, a baseball; 4-inch pancake or waffle, the diameter of a CD.

7. Clean out your pantry and refrigerator. Get rid of the foods that sabotage your weight loss.

8. Avoid hunger. Eat regular meals and snacks. Make sure you have some protein foods such as yogurt, tuna, beans or chicken for most meals. Some research suggests that protein helps you feel full longer.

9. Make some stealth changes. That will get everyone in the family eating healthier. Buy low-fat 1% or skim milk, low-fat cream cheese and reduced-fat cheese instead of the full-fat versions. Use them in recipes to cut the fat and calories.

10. Treat yourself occasionally. If your chocolate craving is getting to you, try sugar-free hot-chocolate packets. If you need a treat, go out for it or buy small prepackaged portions of ice cream bars. If you love chocolate, consider keeping bite-size pieces in the freezer.

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