Okay, so you made yourself a promise to fight the flab and become fabulously fit and healthy this year. Big points to you if you’re still plugging away and enjoying the results right now. But, if you’ve hit a roadblock and your plans have come unstuck, this guide will point you in the right direction.
Identify that roadblock. For most of us, it really is as easy as realising that, perhaps, we bit off more than we could chew from the get-go. Often, in our quest to make sweeping changes, we start out with all guns blazing, only to discover the restrictive food plan or intense daily work-out regimen isn’t right for us at all.
Instead of throwing in the towel, the solution is to break down your admirable goals and dreams into more manageable chunks. Taking baby steps (or smaller bites, if you will) instead of giant, uncharted leaps, will help you discover what really works for you. Whether your personal stumbling block is food, exercise, motivation or a combination of all three, making gradual changes slowly will add up to a whole lot of success.
And in the spirit of less is more, try on these perfectly manageable, bite-sized tips, tricks and strategies for size, starting right now!
Focus on the now and forget about the end goal. Today, you can achieve great things. You can eat well, do a little exercise or swap a bad habit for a good one. Build upon these baby steps every day instead of becoming overwhelmed and discouraged by a task that seems impossible. You can reinvent yourself, you just don’t have to do it overnight.
Remember to eat, even though going all day without can have the heady effect of making you feel somewhat self-righteous. It’s not healthy to starve yourself, so try snacking every three to
four hours – preferably not on choccies! Your blood glucose levels will thank you, too.
Or, try going a little hungry sometimes. Most of us have no idea what true hunger really feels like. Occasionally, let yourself feel the sensation of a rumbling tummy to help you get back in touch with your body.
Arm yourself with a mantra that will hit home for you when you feel like quitting, such as, ‘I can make it happen!’. Put your mantra all over the place so you see it often – you could even write it in red lipstick on your bathroom mirror!
Squeeze a little lemon or lime juice into a glass of hot water every morning. It’s a cleansing and hunger-busting way to kickstart your day.
Joining a gym is a great idea, so long as you not only plan to go, but actually do go. Otherwise, it’s a waste of money and just one more thing to feel guilty about.
Decide to go for a walk today with no other purpose in mind than simply walking. It doesn’t matter where you go or for how long. Tomorrow, go again and walk for five minutes longer than you did yesterday. The next day, do it again. In about 21 days, you’ll find it’s become a habit. The bonus? You’ll be burning fat and kilojoules without even trying since, remember, all you’re doing is enjoying a walk.
Try not to undo your good work – exercise is not a licence to eat like a horse afterwards. Just saying!
Protein is your friend when you’re trying to lose weight. Aside from all the great stuff it does for your brain and immune system, it also keeps you feeling fuller for longer than carb-heavy snacks like, say, toast and jam. So include protein with every meal and snack. Choose hard-boiled eggs, egg white omelettes, tuna in spring water, grilled chicken breast, turkey, lean beef, nuts and seeds, low-fat mozzarella, cottage cheese, soy-milk smoothies, Greek yoghurt and baked beans.
Give trigger foods the cold shoulder. They can’t taunt you if they’re not in your house. It’s that simple! Don’t buy them. Poke your tongue out at them as you sashay past with your trolley in the supermarket - remember, you can make it happen!
On the other hand, there are no evil foods. A wise man once said, ‘A chocolate bar does not the end of the world signify’. Okay, it wasn’t a wise man, was us! In any case, if you do happen to one or another supposedly naughty treat, forgive yourself and move on. Don’t give food the power to bring you down.
Go orange for lunch with baby carrots and a light veggie dip or hummus. Filling, delicious and portable, too!
Buy seven apples a week, at least, then eat one every day. Apples are crunchy, satisfying gems of goodness. What’s not to love about that?
Enlist your smartphone’s help by using one of the many apps available for monitoring your health, fitness and wellbeing, such as MyFitnessPal, MyNetDiary, Fitbit, Fooducate and Weight Watchers. It’s like having a personal trainer and meal planner right there in your pocket. Explore your iPhone or Android app store to find one that’s right for you.
Keep track of every single thing you eat and drink every single day. Whether you write it down in a notebook, or use an app (see above), journalising makes a big difference – it’s accountability with a capital A! Suddenly, it becomes much harder to forget what you’ve consumed.
Speaking of accountability, consider taking it to the next level. Blogging about your weight-loss journey can provide a creative outlet, help you work through complex emotions and can be a great motivational tool, especially if you gather a small audience of followers. Of course, you can opt to keep a blog private, if you prefer, just like a diary. Check out free blog-hosting sites such as blogger.com or wordpress.com for ideas on how to start.
Be inspired by other people’s journeys if starting your own blog doesn’t appeal to you. Google ‘weight-loss blogs’ and be prepared to be blown away. There are so many people in exactly the same boat as you, just working hard, determined to succeed and sharing their stories. It’s extremely powerful stuff.