Getting Back on Track

Welcome back everybody. Here’s to a year of health, happiness and adventure. I have an incredibly strong feeling that 2010 is going to be a great year for many of us.

December was a busy month, as I’m sure it was for many of you, filled with holiday bustle, Christmas parties, gift-shopping, and family and friend-filled visits. And if you are like me at all, it may have also included one too many “Christmas treat” indulgences, or a few too many glasses of bubbly on NYE.

Now that January is here, I am looking forward to regaining focus and getting back to my healthy ways. This is the time of year that many of us (me included) start to think about our New Year’s resolutions and what we hope to accomplish in the coming year.

For many people, oftentimes resolutions include some sort of health-goal pertaining around diet. When it comes to these types of goals, the two most common mistakes I commonly see are when people either make non-specific goals or they take an “all-or-nothing” approach. Unfortunately, both can (and probably will) set you up for failure.

Perhaps you want to lose weight? Eat healthier? Sound familiar?

First you need an action plan. How are you going to do it? What steps are you going to take to make sure you follow through? 

Secondly – drop the “all or nothing” attitude. I used to be the worst offender for this one. I would basically tell myself that starting January 1st I would eat super healthy and avoid certain foods.  Usually the goal was too strict and unobtainable, even for a health-nut like me. I would put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to eat “perfectly” and by day 4 or 5 when I slipped, I felt like a failure. The way to resolve this problem is to NOT set yourself up for failure!

The key is to incorporate small changes that you can do right now today. Also, instead of just focusing on what you shouldn’t be eating (i.e. sugar, processed food) think of what you can add to your daily regime that will leave less room for unhealthy eating habits.

If you are looking for some ideas to help jump-start your year of health, look no further! Below are 5 simple and realistic tips you can start doing today.

1) Green Smoothie in the morning. This is the perfect way of getting a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals in at the start of your day. What you will need is a decent blender and some fresh veggies and fruit. If you are new to eating healthy you might start by adding more fruits than veggies if you prefer a sweeter taste (half a banana or a few dates will add sweetness to any green drink).  For instance, my green smoothie this morning consisted of a handful of spinach, fresh lemon juice, carrot, and pear. Just add water, blend and enjoy. You can also add supplements to give it an extra boost. For example, I often add ½ -1 tsp of Spirulina to give it an added green kick.  Depending on your appetite in the morning, a green smoothie can be an accompaniment to a healthy breakfast or you may decide to enjoy it on its own and eat a few hours later.

2) Brown Bag it Everyday. If you can bring your lunch to work Mon-Fri and save eating-out for the weekend, then you are ahead of the game. Yes, this means that you have to take the time to prepare your lunch ahead of time, but aren’t you and your health worth it? When you prepare your own lunch you have complete control of what you are putting in your mouth. Ideally these lunches should be home-made, healthy, and nutrient dense. Popping a “Lean Cuisine” in the staff-kitchen microwave doesn’t count. I know in my office people love to eat out regularly – one of the joys of working in downtown Toronto and being surrounded by restaurants. However, I know that if I can at least bring my own lunch Mon-Thursday, come Friday if all my co-workers are going out to eat then I don’t feel as bad about joining them if I’ve brought my lunch the remainder of the week. Mind you, I don’t just throw everything out the window come Friday. If I do decide to eat out, I still try to make healthy choices regardless of the restaurant.

3) Include Healthy Fats. Do you suffer from dry winter-chapped skin?  Think about foods like salmon, healthy nuts and seeds like walnuts and pumpkin seeds, avocados, and oils like coconut, flax and olive. These healthy fats are not only great for your brain but they also provide natural moisture to your skin. And regardless of what you may have been told, NO these fats will not make you fat. You still have to practice moderation because some of these foods are more calorie-dense; however, you need to consume healthy fats to be hormonally balanced and actually lose fat!

4) Stay hydrated and increase your water content. Similar to the above point, the winter climate can be quite drying to your body (even if you are not sweating). Think water with lemon, warm herbal teas, and home-made smoothies and juices made from fresh vegetables and fruits. Remember, often times when you think you are hungry you are actually thirsty!

5) Prepare for snack-attacks. You’re less likely to eat something unhealthy if you have something healthy to eat on-hand. Oftentimes when we are hungry we want to reach for the first thing we set our eyes on, even if that is a chocolate chip cookie. Make sure your snacks are nutritionally balanced, meaning they consist of a carb, protein and healthy fat. This will help keep your blood sugar balanced and your mind happy. When I’m at work I usually choose a piece of fruit with a handful of raw nuts, like almonds or walnuts. Another favourite of mine is sliced up apple dipped into hazelnut-almond butter – delish! Whenever I return home ravenously hungry and ready to devour the first thing that comes into sight but still need to actually prepare and cook dinner first, I choose pre-cut veggies and hummus as my first-line of defence. This way I can nibble a bit but not ruin my appetite for a nutritious and healthy dinner. Just make sure you don’t find yourself in a position where you’ve polished off a whole bag of baby carrots before dinner is even ready! If you do however, try not to beat yourself up over it. At least it wasn’t a bag of chips.

There you have it!  Five simple and realistic tips to incorporate into your 2010 repertoire.

Why don’t you challenge yourself to stick to these goals for the next 2 weeks? After that you may just decide to go the entire month, even better – the entire year. And don’t forget to leave the all-or-nothing attitude back in 2009. Doing what you can is better than giving up and doing nothing at all.

Happy New Years!

Elaine

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