When it comes to boosting the healthfulness of your lifestyle, sometimes the first step you take may be the hardest one.
With so much conflicting information in the media on the best ways to lose weight and get healthier, you are likely to be confused.
You may be asking yourself some common questions:
Are all carbs bad?
No! In fact, foods from all food groups can be a part of a healthy diet plan.
What kind of exercise is best for me?
The best exercise for you is the one you enjoy doing and can fit most easily into your lifestyle.
Does stress play a role in my health and weight?
Yes! However, most diet programs just tell you what to eat and not eat without giving much attention to how stress and emotions can negatively affect your eating and exercise habits.
That’s one of the reasons I wrote my latest book, Six Factors to Fit: Weight Loss that Works for You!, published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In this book, I share my novel way of tackling weight that starts with YOU – your lifestyle, your habits, your mindset.
You learn how to get started and keep going, even when the going gets tough.
Changing your focus from just dropping pounds and having a smaller waist to wanting to get healthier, have more energy and feel better can help motivate healthier habits.
If you’re struggling to get started improving your lifestyle and better managing weight, here are some tips to guide you:
1 – Pick an Approach that Fits Your Lifestyle
Knowing yourself and your current lifestyle habits gives you a foundation to work from.
If you eat out a lot, you will need a program that teaches you how to eat out more healthfully.
Or if you spend long hours sitting all day and have no time for a formal exercise program, you’ll need an approach that helps you build physical activity into your daily routine.
If stress is impairing your ability to eat healthfully or be physically active, then you will need a program that helps you better manage stress.
To get a better understanding of your current lifestyle habits that may be affecting your weight, you can take my 5-minute, scientifically-validated Six Factor Quiz here and get your personalized results.
This can help to pinpoint which lifestyle habit you want to tackle first.
2 –Be Specific in your Goal Setting
Rather than say you want to start eating better, try using specific, action-oriented steps instead. Here are some examples:
- I will add a vegetable or fruit to each of my meals
- I will keep the most problematic foods out of my home
- I will find healthy substitutions for foods I crave so I don’t feel deprived; you may consider popcorn instead of chips, low calorie frozen fruit bar instead of ice cream and making your own calorie-controlled sweet dessert like ‘energy bites’ instead of cookies.
3 – Rally Support for when the Going Gets Tough
When you start out on a healthy lifestyle journey, typically your motivation will be high.
But since we know that life challenges at work or home can take time away from self-care, it’s important to have people in your corner who support you and will help you stay on the healthy lifestyle track.
This may be a neighbor (or even your dog!) who’s your walking partner, a friend or family member who’s your confidant or even a health care provider such as a registered dietitian nutritionist to help with meal planning or a health psychologist to help you cope with stress or emotional issues.
Reaching your healthy lifestyle goals will be easier if you don’t go it alone.
Robert Kushner, MD