It’s the time of year when we all start thinking about bathing suit season. But if we’ve learned anything from doing this year after year, it’s that fad diets and starvation aren’t the answer to real health and weight loss.
So how can you get in shape so you can enjoy summer while also building habits that stick? We’ve outlined five steps to get started on the path to a healthier you.
- Set a Goal: Your goal should be more than a number on a scale. Weight is only one factor in being healthy and fit, so set a more meaningful goal. For example, is there a trail you’d love to be able to hike? Or a number of laps you’d like to do at the pool? Have one major goal and several mini-goals so you can see progress and celebrate victories.
- Focus on Healthy Foods – Not a Diet: The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to form habits – not jump on every diet bandwagon. Instead of avoiding all carbs or cutting out entire food groups, focus on eating fresh, nutrient-rich foods. This means plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. And, of course, it also means cutting back salt and sugar. It’s unrealistic to vow to never eat another potato chip or cookie. Instead, aim for moderation. Study serving sizes and control portion sizes at restaurants and when eating at home.
- Sneak More Movement into Your Day: A regular workout routine is good – start with walking for 20 minutes two days a week. Increase your time and add more days as the walks become easier. And sneak physical activity into your day:
- Park farther away: Get some extra steps in as you come and go from your car
- Take the stairs: This is a quick and easy way to get short bursts of exercise
- Use your work breaks: Try taking a lap around the floor or building, doing a few quick stretches or walking to errands
- Use a standing desk
- Get on your toes: It’s easy to do calf raises (lifting your heels off the ground) while standing in line, brushing your teeth, cooking, etc.
- Leverage phone time: Stand, pace or stretch while talking on the phone
- Have walking meetings: Ask your coworkers to get in a few steps instead of having a traditional seated meeting
- Netflix and move: Stretch or jog in place while watching TV
- Look Beyond the Cardio: While getting in good cardiovascular workouts is important, don’t skip strength and flexibility training. Strength training isn’t all about getting buff – it helps to increase lean muscle, reduce body fat and burn calories more efficiently. Flexibility is important because it will give you greater freedom of movement and reduce the risk of injury, so don’t sleep on the stretching either.
- Mix It Up: Eating healthy can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be boring. Before you get started, fire up the internet and collect a week’s worth of healthy recipes. You might be surprised how many dishes can be made healthier with just a few adjustments. Just like shaking up your diet, it’s important to keep your exercise fresh too. Online routines and classes let you follow along at home and try new ways to get moving.
As you start new eating habits or exercise, remember that it takes time to get in shape. You probably won’t drop 2 sizes by the time the pools open, but by dedicating yourself to being healthier, you will see results that last long-term.
If you need help or direction, Comprehensive Primary Care is here. Our Weight Management
Program will develop a plan that’s specific to you to optimize weight loss. We also offer Medical Nutrition Therapy, where a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist helps you treat specific medical conditions and symptoms with a tailored dietary plan.