The most common time of the year to initiate positive change is typically January, and we tend to initiate change in the form of New Year’s resolutions. One of the most typical New Year’s resolution is weight loss. Weight loss in itself has many health benefits but the mindset around weight loss can often be unhealthy. Our mentality may become obsessive compulsive resulting in only short term weight loss due to a reduced quality of life and the end result is a backslide of weight gain when the will power runs out. This is called yo-yo dieting.
In January the health clubs become crowded and individuals set lofty weight loss goals for themselves. They tend to do whatever it takes to reach those goals like extreme low calorie dieting, maybe even diet pills, dangerous detoxification programs and extensive hours exercising. All of these behaviors are not strategies for success long term. As humans we do not have a will power tank that big. There has to be another focus besides weight loss.
The challenge this year is to avoid focusing on the scale needle and instead focus on health and improving quality of life. When health and overall quality of life becomes the focus, weight loss will naturally follow and it is an added benefit rather than an obsession.
Start out by asking yourself what is health? Does it mean that next time you go to your doctor he takes you off of your diabetic medication because you have controlled your blood sugars through eating properly and remaining active? Or how about setting time each day to be active and play with your children, getting them out from behind the television or computer and outside and moving with you? There are several different areas that we can choose to focus on improving our overall health and quality of life. Here are some additional examples of lifestyle and healthy goals and strategies you can work on this year and weight loss will naturally be a benefit of adhering to these goals.
Nutrition contributes to over 70% of your health status. Look at the different areas that you struggle with and try to build on making improvements in these areas. Some examples include taking a healthy cooking class, reducing the amount of times you eat out each week. Aim to have the recommended 9-11 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, eat a “helmet” full of vegetables each day. Remove or limit any beverages with added sugars or artificial sweeteners, and increase water intake to at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day.
Stress management can be tricky especially if your stress comes from your career. Aim to turn all devices off by a certain time each evening and unwind with a good book, a bath or simply conversing with your spouse and children. Get a meditation app, book or video and try to meditate daily for at least 5 minutes.
Sleep is something that we often take for granted and do not get enough of it. Lack of sleep has so many detrimental health effects on hormones, insulin levels, weight and overall mental clarity/focus. If you are not sleeping at least 7 hours per night aim to go to bed a half an hour earlier each evening until you hit at least 7 hours of sleep. Some natural supplements that can help with sleep include melatonin, 5-HTP and even sleep/nighttime herbal teas.
Exercise and movement are also very important to overall stress management and hormone balance. Exercise releases the good mood hormone serotonin. This is the same hormone that is released when we eat comfort foods. Keeping serotonin levels up from exercise can reduce our cravings for comfort foods and will also improve our overall energy and quality of life. There is no need to set lofty goals with exercise 30-45 min. of strength training a few times of week along with daily movement from activities you enjoy like tennis, dancing, walking, running, swimming etc. is the best way to see long term goals without damaging the metabolism with endless hours in the gym. Incorporate your family into your daily movement, like playing at the park, going for walks, etc. It will not only improve your health but it can also improve your relationships.
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