Some people can make numerous changes all at once. Others find making changes simultaneously overwhelming and difficult to handle. Here are some suggestions (for each month in the new year) to improve your lifestyle and health! These tips can help you lose some extra weight and improve your health and quality of life.
January – Keep food and exercise records (in a notebook, online, or on your phone). These will help with accountability and will allow you to observe more accurately what you are doing right and what improvements need to be made. Research has shown that these are extremely helpful and can promote behavior change.
February– Cut the calories. Make sure your portion sizes are not too large. Even if you are eating healthy food, too much of it may be a problem and cause a caloric overload. If necessary, weigh and measure your food! Use smaller plates! Avoid mindless eating and snacking!
March – Ramp up your exercise! Add to what you are doing already! Start to head outdoors if you have been exercising mostly indoors during the winter months! Walk-walk-walk! Find ways to build activity into your daily life! (Check with your doctor before starting a rigorous exercise program.)
April– Revisit your menus! What are the meals you are most likely to cook for your family? Can you make them healthier? Everyone will benefit with just a few small but healthy changes. Try out some new healthy recipes to add to your menu selection.
May– Assess your dining out habits. How often do you eat out? Can you avoid some of the high- risk social eating?
June– How well do you sleep? Are you getting enough rest? Increased weight has been related to lack of sleep. If sleep is a problem, you may need to discuss it with your physician.
July– Check your home and work space. Are there high calorie foods and beverages around? Is there a lot of temptation? Make your personal space conducive to managing your weight.
August– Some stress is normal. However, excessive amounts of daily stress can play havoc with your health. Assess your amount of stress, and take steps to decrease or manage it. Examples to decrease stress might be practicing daily habits of relaxation such as walking, breathing, yoga, or listening to calm music.
September– Do you eat enough fruits and vegetables? Most experts agree that increasing the fruits and vegetables in your diet can help immensely with your weight and health. Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, and important vitamins and minerals.
October– Make sure you have enough time to enjoy some hobbies and interests other than work. Some of these interests can include volunteer work. For a truly rich and satisfying life, make sure these are part of your weekly routine. Take up a hobby you haven’t done in years. Some examples of hobbies are crafts, recreational exercise, home projects, gardening, music, playing with your pet etc.
November – Practice using affirmations. Affirmations are statements you make to yourself about yourself and your behaviors. An example might be “I am eating healthier and feeling better.” Another might be “I am in control of my food choices, and will decide whether or not to eat the food.”
December – Congratulate yourself for taking the steps to improve your health and life. How can you reward yourself for making these positive changes? Improved quality of life is a reward in and of itself. Other examples might be a new book, a call to a long-time friend, a pampering session at a spa, a walk in the woods. Forgive yourself if you have had a few slip-ups. The trends and commitments are what counts. Enjoy every moment, and look forward to the next day and your healthy lifestyle.