‘I don’t believe in diets,’ Mairlyn Smith confided, ‘I believe in lifestyle changes.’ As a professional home economist, cookbook author and Cityline celebrity, she knows a thing or two about healthy living. Mairlyn shared her suggestions for setting yourself up for success with your New Years resolution to eat healthier and become more active.
- Make your goals attainable. Break them into easy, achievable steps. This will help you create momentum and allow you to build on your success.
- Be specific. ‘Get fit’ and ‘eat better’ are lofty goals. Setting specific goals helps you know when you have reached them.
- Set a reasonable time frame. Instead of trying to lose fifty pounds in a month, try losing it over a year. Losing a large amount of weight quickly makes regaining the weight more likely down the road.
- Pick things you enjoy. If your planned dietary change includes foods you don’t like to eat, you probably won’t stick to it.
- If it’s not on your plan, don’t buy it and don’t keep it in the house. This isn’t about willpower. It’s about setting yourself up for success.
- An apple a day…is a great first step to getting more fruit in your diet. Apples are inexpensive, healthy, and portable snacks. It’s an easy way to fit 1-2 servings of fruit.
- Make substitutions. Swap out foods you are trying to cut out of your diet and replace with healthier options.
- Eat more intentionally. Sit down at a table. Celebrate each meal and have respect for it. Take the time to look at it and enjoy it.
- Size matters…when it comes to your plate. Try serving your food on smaller plates to help with portion control.
- Get a buddy. This builds in accountability and can make changes a lot more fun with good company. You don’t have to go it alone. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help.
- Let go of perfectionism. Nobody’s perfect, just get up more times than you fall down. Don’t give up just because you’ve had a slip up. Don’t give in to all or nothing thinking.
- Exercise self-compassion. Treat yourself like you would a friend to help silence the negative voice in your head. Be nicer to yourself.
- Maintain perspective. Wellness is a journey, not a destination. The process can even be fun when it becomes part of your lifestyle.
- Focus on building habits. It takes 2-6 weeks to build a new habit. The key to lifestyle change is developing lifelong habits. Don’t stop at two weeks, keep going and it will become part of your life.
- Practice moderation. On special occasions, put flavour first. When you deprive yourself, you crave ‘forbidden foods’ and think about them all the time.
- Talk about it. Tell supportive people in your life about the changes you are making. Say it out loud! When you are struggling, give them a call for moral support.
- Prepare. Pre-pack your gym bag or pre-portion out your snacks. Planning ahead makes for fewer excuses or barriers to reaching your goal.
- Show up. If you don’t feel motivated to go for a walk, start small. Just go for a walk around the block and if you find you’re really tired, go home and take a nap. If you feel better (and you probably will), keep going.
Mid-January generally marks the turning point for those setting New Years resolutions. Taking a longer view and focusing on healthy, long-term habits can help you achieve the goals you set to improve your health, fitness and overall wellness.
If you’re among the 88% of Canadian women resolving to increase physical activity or the 87% who want to eat healthier, these ideas might be just what you need to avoid joining the 55% who give up in less than a year. You don’t necessarily need a ‘new diet’ with the New Year, but you can achieve a positive lifestyle change.