If your New Year’s resolution wasn’t to lose five, 10 or 15 pounds, you’re most likely in the minority. Most diets give you a list of things that are off limits — no white foods, no eating after 8 p.m., no carbs after lunch. I don’t like to feel deprived, and I most certainly cannot stay away from white sugar for the rest of my life.
Here are some ideas you can add to your routine to help move toward healthier habits in the new year.
First, add the word “healthy” to your vocabulary and forget about “skinny.” Healthy people eat a variety of foods, aren’t scared to try a new vegetable and are disciplined in when they eat and how much.
Healthy people aren’t “on a diet.” They have changed their eating habits for life, and find balance in nutritious foods and indulgent treats.
Strive to make changes that you can keep forever, like swapping sugary cereals for one with fewer ingredients. Kashi’s Autumn Wheat cereal has only two ingredients: wheat and cane juice.
Add a monthly trip to a farmer’s market. Vegetables, eggs, and meats you find at the farmer’s market are straight from the farm. They may have been picked the day before and come straight to you without a middle distributor. They last longer, are likely more sustainable and organic, and you can ask the farmer questions about how to serve something or how long it will last.
Also remember that adding foods with color are a sure way to add good-for-you ingredients. Unless that color is in ice cream.
Make mini-goals for your big goals. If your overall goal is to get healthy, have a mini-goal not related to weight. For instance, try to attend two fitness classes per week at your gym. You could walk the dog an extra block. Do five more minutes on the treadmill. Raise the weights on your dumbbells. Try to keep your heart rate in a certain range.
Each week or month, change the mini-goal to something new.
Stick with the gym. The gyms are always more crowded in January than any other month. Don’t be one of the people who drop off after one month. Spend the time finding something you enjoy at the gym.
Find a way to make the time go by, like do two machines for 20 minutes each, changing the speed or resistance every five minutes. Try a circuit of four movements (i.e. pushups, sit-ups, squats, lunges) for one minute each and do it three times. When you have a plan before you walk in, you won’t waste time with the “what do I want to do today?” look on your face.
Try one new recipe per week. Think about the 21 meals in a week and how you can hopefully dedicate some time to experimenting on one. Spend a little time with a cookbook or food blog and bookmark or print recipes that sound good. Write down combinations that sound good for lunch even if it’s not a real recipe from a book.
My favorite lunch right now is a sampler plate of an apple, carrots, tomato, broccoli, crackers and peanut butter, and hummus for dipping.
All of these suggestions are doable without changing your life in a major way. There is no financial commitment to making little lifestyle changes like you see with a 21-day food plan or eight-week boot camp. You are just tweaking habits you already have. If you fall off the wagon, just get back on.
Instead of setting yourself up for a period of yo-yo dieting and probable failure, resolve to get healthy by making one healthy decision at a time.
Marci Gilbert writes a daily food and fitness blog at www.marcigilbert.com.