by Mike Ferguson
(St. Charles, MO) – Be honest, how are you doing when it comes to those New Year’s resolutions you probably made?
The ones about eating better, losing weight and exercising more.
According to many surveys, many of those commitments have been forgotten.
On this week’s “Missouri Viewpoints”, two health experts provide the advice and encouragement to help up get back on track. Of course, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before to start any kind of weight loss or exercise program, especially if you have a health condition.
The track to better health goes through the grocery store, kitchen and dinner table before it gets to the gym.
Marcia Whelan is with Whole Foods Market and says mindset is key to getting started right and putting yourself in a position to succeed. She sees many people with good intentions give up on their health goals altogether when they fall short at some point.
“It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Let’s say you have a week or a day where you don’t eat that well or you have a meal during the day where it’s junk food, you don’t have to feel like “I’m just going to throw in the towel, I’ve completely failed at this.”
While having an overall goal is usually a good thing, Whelan recommends breaking those into smaller, easier attainable goals. For instance, if your goal is to lose 25 pounds this year, a goal to get started may be to lose three pounds this month. That is measurable, attainable and the success of meeting that goal provides encouragement to stay focused.
The same approach can also be used when it comes to making big changes in your diet. Changing too much, too quickly can be hard to stick with over time.
“I tell people if they’re just starting out with trying to eat better,” Whelan explains, “just give up soda for a week and then you’ve got all those artificial ingredients and all that sugar or artificial sweeteners out of your diet for the week.”
After that, easing into a healthy diet could mean reducing the amount of fast food meals per week or replacing a couple frozen meals at home with something fresh.
When it comes to making the meals cooked at home healthier, Whelan has a simple suggestion.
“…reduce the size of the animal protein on the plate and increase the fruits and vegetables, increase the ‘colors’ on your plate.”
In others words, a little smaller burger or pork chop and a little bigger helping of fresh veggies.
Healthy eating ideas are available online through many sources and also likely available through your doctor. Whole Foods Markets has some resources available on their website as well (linked below).
While your diet may be the most important part of your healthy lifestyle, it’s important to exercise as well. It’s been said that the best exercise program is the one you will actually do and enjoy, so it’s not a matter of one-size-fits-all.
For some, going to a gym and doing cardio machines or weight training is the answer. For others, it’s workouts at home on video or it could be something as basic as making it a point to walk in the park or play more tennis or basketball with friends.
Whatever your choice of exercise, Tracy Scott tells us that keeping the big picture in mind is important. She’s a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness in St. Peters. She says it’s easy to get discouraged early on and too many people quit trying.
“They don’t really have a plan that’s specific when they start out and they might have unrealistic expectations. They’ve worked out for four weeks, five weeks and they aren’t seeing the results so they just basically give up.”
Television is flooded with commercials and infomercials for weight-loss supplements, exercise equipment and home workout systems. Many of these have people talking about massive weight loss in short amounts of time as part of the sales pitch.
That can be great motivation, but it’s not typical and can lead to expectations that aren’t realistic. You can lose the weight and get in shape, but Scott says it will take some time for everyone.
“You have to give yourself time.”
Another thing to keep in mind is that you could be making progress from your exercise that is real but not seen early on.
“You probably are building muscle but you don’t realize it, so if you’re not seeing the scale move that might just be that you’re building muscle so it’s kind of evening things out. As you progress, you will eventually start to see the pounds come off.”
Scott says personal trainers can be a great resource to get you started. In addition to the coaching and motivation they offer, trainers are also able to give you an honest assessment of your current fitness level and customize a fitness plan based on where you are now, what your goals are and taking into consideration any health issues involved.
When it comes to nutrition and exercise, though, one thing is certain for everyone: it’s never a bad time to get started.
On the web:
Whole Foods Market: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/
Anytime Fitness: http://www.AnytimeFitness.com