Returning unwanted gifts at the end of the holiday season is usually a
snap. But all too often, people come out of the holidays with something
that isn't so easy to take back: unwanted pounds.
Even if you gained only 1 or 2 pounds, the reality is that the added weight
could accumulate over the years, according to the
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
So whether you're looking to lose holiday pounds or you just made a
New Year's resolution to get in better shape, you'll need to do
two things: eat better and exercise more. The following tips can help
you get started.
Improve your eating habits
Eat more produce. Fruits and vegetables are high-fiber and usually low-calorie foods that
can help you feel full faster. Try getting more fresh produce in your
diet by adding one new fruit or vegetable every month.
Choose low-fat dairy. Switch to low-fat dairy products if you haven't already.
Keep a food log. Keeping track of what you eat will help you see food patterns that you
may be falling into. For instance, you may discover that you're eating
three snacks after dinner. You can start by cutting back to two snacks
and then gradually to one snack. Be sure to keep an honest account of
what you eat.
Buddy up. Find a family member or friend who also wants to lose weight and work
together. Exercising with someone else can make it more enjoyable and
help you stick to it. Your buddy can also help you eat better. Not only
will you keep tabs on each other, but you can lean on each other for emotional
support as well.
Do what you enjoy. Keep exercise from seeming like a chore by choosing activities that you
enjoy. This will help you stay motivated throughout the year. Also, try
to vary your activities so you don't get bored.
Make exercise part of your daily routine. The
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that most adults get at least 2½ hours of moderate aerobic
activity every week. However, many people need more than 150 minutes of
aerobic exercise a week to prevent weight gain. And some will need to
do more than 300 minutes (five hours) a week to lose weight or maintain
If you find it difficult to make time for exercise, look for ways to get
more activity during the day. You could:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park farther away from your destination when running errands.
- Walk your kids home from school or other activities.
Remember, if you aren't used to exercising, talk to your doctor before
Healthy for life
Finally, think of your new food and exercise habits as part of a healthy
lifestyle, not just a temporary diet. A healthy diet and regular exercise
do more than help you lose weight, according to the academy. You'll
feel better, have more energy and quite possibly add years to your life.