You no longer have to imagine the difference it will make when you create a new lifestyle. If you think a new lifestyle is for you visit this page on a regular basis. Our very own lifestyle and weight management specialist; Cheryl Hanniman, will be posting dietary, nutritional and exercise tips designed to make your lifestyle transition much easier.
Tip # 1- Water and Weight Loss
You’ll hear many professionals in lifestyle and weight refer to water as a major contributor to weight loss. This is very true as it can increase your metabolism by up to 30%, which helps you burn off more calories, especially when you drink about 15oz. just before your meal. This helps you consume less calories at mealtime.
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Tip # 2- Healthy Eating
Now that we’ve purged our cupboards let’s remember, that while trying out new foods, we still want to follow our plan.
Healthy eating is all about balance. We want to incorporate all the food groups in our daily choices. This is important to ensure we are consuming all the essential nutrients our body requires.
At this point it is a good idea to keep track of what and when we eat. Keep some sort of Food Journal! It helps us to evaluate whether we are hitting the mark with portion sizes, food choices and eating patterns. This is a VERY IMPORTANT STEP when making changes to our daily habits.
Are we eating enough? Are we skipping meals? Are we eating large meals late?
Are we consuming unnecessary snacks? Do we eat when working? Are we overindulging? Are we selecting foods from all the categories in the plan? Any pattern established can be good or bad.
If we are making lifestyle changes it is important to understand what we are doing right and what needs to change. Remember in order to see change we need to change!
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Tip # 3- Lifestyle Change
A lifestyle change is not an easy process. Take your time. Some changes may require baby steps, others may be obtained without too much hardship.
There are 5 stages of Change
Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance.
Try to visualize the stages as a staircase. There is only one way to get to the next step and that is through EFFORT? Because stairs go both ways, at times we will take a step back. Be okay with this. Life is a cha-cha.
As we have already made the commitment to change hopefully we are in the Action stage. Just in case, let’s take a quick look at what the first three stages mean.
- Pre-contemplation: not thinking seriously about change. Don’t view their habits as problematic
- Contemplation: consider the possibility of change
- Preparation: made previous attempts to change. Are usually taking small steps towards changing their behavior. Believe change is necessary.
- Which brings us to Action: making great steps towards significant change. May try several techniques. Greatest risk of relapse!
- Maintenance: is the formation of really good habits. This stage is hopefully our goal at the end of the journey.
Tip # 4- Goal Setting
One of the steps to setting and keeping habits is to set SMART goals.
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time limited
Changes are hard to make because we love our old habits. We are dedicated to them. Our daily activities, our social life, our way of thinking is all part of these developed habits.
We need to be very specific about the change we want to make. Every change we make requires us to lose something in the process. If our goal is to go to the gym three days a week at 4:30 pm we need to acknowledge what we were previously doing at that time of day. Were we cooking, shopping, having coffee or any other activity that was fairly habitual. We need to first figure out how to make that change before we can proceed with our new goal.
Our SMART goal needs to read: I will go to the gym Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 4:30p.m.
I will buy a 3 month membership and commit to this time frame
I will make sure I have leftovers from the previous night so there is no need to cook.
This is something I want to do and not just something I feel I should do
A vague goal might read:
I will start to exercise
I will pay as I go just in case I don’t make it as often as I want to
I will go after work if I’m not too tired
My mom says I should do this to lose weight
Remember a Lifestyle change requires specific goals in order to successfully change.
Tip # 5- Success
Celebrate your success along the way. This motivation is a necessary step towards meeting your goals.
You need to have long term goals, short term goals and some sort of reward system.
Long term is the big picture (usually the end result) . I am going to lose 50 pounds in one year. I will achieve this by changing my eating habits and exercising. I want to do this for my health. Once done I am going to Scotland for a walking holiday.
Short term are smaller goals/steps within the framework of the long term goal. These are your baby steps!
In the first week I will: lose 1 pound, I will eat vegetables at every meal, I will allow myself one piece of dark chocolate if I am successful
In the second week I will: lose 1 pound, I will exercise Monday, Wednesday, Friday at the 6:30am. I will buy that book I’ve been wanting if I am successful.
….. continue week to week goals
In three months: I will have lost 12 pounds, I will be eating 5 to 6 servings of vegetables. I will have reduced my simple carbs to one serving per day. I will be eating 1 protein serving at every meal. I will be exercising 3 times per week at 6:30am during the work week. I will do cardio for 1 hour on the weekend.
I will buy a new dress for that wedding I am invited to if I am successful.
…..continue week to week goals
In 6 months:…….etc.
By now habits are forming but be mindful of relapses.
Tip # 6- Relapses
Let’s talk about relapses
Returning to old patterns of behavior seems to be part of the journey to change. It is the rule rather than the exception. Old habits are hard to break!
When a relapse occurs it is important to identify our weaknesses and be ready for the next time.
We all have lapses in behavior where we quickly return to our resolution but a relapse is a total return to our old patterns.
It is important to think of these relapses as a positive learning curve on the road to self improvement. If we learn to recognize problem behaviors we can hopefully predict how and when they will surface again. Predictability helps us to outline a functional strategy!
Do we eat when we’re sad, do we eat when we’re angry, do we eat when we’re bored?
Tip # 7- Combating Relapse Triggers
If we have relapsed, hopefully a trigger has been identified. The question now is what strategy can we formulate for a possible course of action?
Let’s tackle eating out as our first challenge. It’s a big one!!
The first question upon sitting down is “what would you like to drink?”. Have you given this some thought before you arrived. Are you going to have an alcoholic beverage? If so, how many? Remembering, if change is going to happen, you need to change. How many drinks would you normally have? (Maybe you might choose to cut that in half.) If your norm would be four then 2 it is! Is it easier to have a drink right away, have some water in the middle and another drink later? If you normally only have one, you might choose to keep this habit! This needs to be planned before you arrive.
Next, is the menu. What are you going to order? Looking through the menu while you’re sitting there is setting up for failure. A good plan might be to look up food choices online, take your time, pick something you will enjoy and be prepared.
The next problem is when they bring the bread! You’re hungry! You know you won’t be able to resist! A thought might be to tell the waitress to bring your salad with the bread. That way you have something to eat while everyone else is eating bread.
If you know the portion of what you ordered is too big, then make sure to ask for half in a take out container before you start.
If a course of action is formulated before you arrive at the restaurant you are more likely to succeed!
Tip # 8- Manage Temptation
Another challenge to conquer might be incessant snacking. What can we do to change this behavior without going crazy!!!
There are many tricks that have been suggested and tried. Some of them might work for your personality.
- Brush your teeth before you snack. If you’re still hungry, eat. It probably won’t taste as good as you thought it would. Nothing is delicious after brushing your teeth!
- Wait 10 minutes before you give into the craving. Chances are it might be gone.
- Exercise your right to use the remote! Avoid food commercials! They make you think you’re hungry when you’re really not.
- Eat mindfully! If you must snack then turn off the T.V., take a break from the computer, stop what you’re doing! Sit down, slowly chew your food and pay attention to what you are consuming!
- Replace your go to snacks with other choices. Give it time and see if you like it. (ie. cucumbers, popcorn, rice crackers, fruit….)
- Journal everything you eat, drink and what time. No matter how small the snack, write it down! What time you eat, matters! This way you can formulate a strategy.
- Write down your snacks BEFORE you eat them. It might make you think twice about your choice.
- If you have to eat, cut your portion! Try to make sure it contains a good amount of fibre. Have lots of healthy choices on hand.
- If you eat out of boredom try to form a habit that might work. (ie. knitting, squeezing a stress ball, do some sit ups, stretch or try some squats). Distract yourself!
- If you eat because you’re stressed try deep breathing, meditate, whistle…
- If you eat because your lonely, write down the names of 5 friends before you give into snacking. Maybe consider a pet. Write a letter to a friend. You don’t necessarily have to send it. Go for a walk…
Tip # 9- Preparedness
Have emergency food on hand! There will always be times when life is too busy, no food in the fridge, you have to rush off somewhere unexpectedly…. Life gets in the way of the best plans!
Canned beans, canned tomatoes, frozen vegetables and dry spices can make a quick chilli. Canned salmon and canned tuna are very versatile! Dry a package of Zaroodles ( protein substitute for pasta) can be made into a very healthy meal. Mix it half and half with pasta if you’re not totally ready for this alternative.
If you can cook extra and freeze some for a rainy day, that would be a well laid out plan.
Healthy Protein bars can be brought to a child’s forgotten hockey game to avoid junk food if needed. Always have one in your purse or coat pocket in case of an emergency
Rice crackers with a jar of salsa. Oatmeal with chia seeds and frozen berries. All decent emergency food!
Prepackaged almonds in your car…just in case.
Tip # 10- Congratulations
Congratulations! You have arrived at the end of your first time line! Some of you might have exceeded your expectations, some might have met your goals, some might have hit a plateau and some might have struggled. Whatever your result, Congratulations! You have started a process that you will not regret!
The most important thing, is that you’ve started!
Remember you have set out to make some sort of change. I am sure you’ve succeeded in that endeavor. It may not have been the change you were anticipating but definitely, something has changed.
Let’s revisit the 5 stages of Change.
Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance.
Pr-contemplation is still not thinking seriously about change.
Contemplation is considering the possibility of change.
Preparation is taking small steps toward change. You have made it to the third stage where you know change is necessary.
Action is taking bigger steps toward significant change. It may take several strategies to meet goals and and you may relapse. If relapse occurs you need to be able to identify your weaknesses and be ready for the next time. Never stop trying! There is no failure in trying. A good number of you have made it to this stage.
Maintenance is the fifth stage where we have developed some habits that will help us stick to our goals.
We need to keep making goals even when we are successful. Remember life is a cha cha
Keep making your best effort, believe in yourself and you will succeed!
Certified Lifestyle & Weight Management Specialist