The time between the Thanksgiving feast and the New Year’s resolutions is only five weeks, but it wreaks havoc on dietary resolve and physical activity habits. The University of Houston Texas Obesity Research Center offers these 10 strategies to get back on track to maintaining a healthy weight.
1. Don’t despair. If you have fallen off the wagon, forgive yourself. And get back on again! If you lose yourself and eat more than you want, eat a little less the next day. It is never too late to take action.
2. Document the evidence. Write down what and how much you eat of everything. Writing things down helps you to stay in control and remember what you are eating and doing every day. Looking at your notes can be a helpful reminder for you to stay on track. Remember to include beverages. You can also write down your daily physical activities, too.
3. Keep on moving. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. This should make you sweat a little bit, like walking fast, but even vigorous housework can count. Take yourself sightseeing or plan an activity where you will be able to move around. Even window shopping is better than sitting on the couch. Daily physical activity significantly improves your body functioning, on a cellular level, and your body is better able to lose and avoid gaining weight.
4. Preempt the tempt. Avoid situations where you are going to be hungry and at risk for making high calorie choices. Eat a small snack every three hours. This will stop from letting the hunger get the best of you. The snack should include some protein, like a small piece of reduced calorie cheese or a small handful of nuts.
5. Tell a friend. Enlist the help and support of your friends and family. They may serve as a kind ear when you need to vent, or may have similar physical activity and eating goals as you. Either way, it is always better to have a friend on board.
6. Busy hands. Keep your hands and mind busy. After the holidays are a good time for writing thank you notes, putting holiday goodies away, and spending time with friends whom you may have missed during the holiday bustle. The key is to keep busy and not spend too much time thinking about eating.
7. Plan ahead. Anticipate and make a plan for what you will do in high risk situations. Decide whether you are going to decline the chocolate pecan torte, have a bite or have a piece. If you decide to have a piece, plan in advance to eat a little less of something else. Try to enjoy the company of friends and family away from the table to remove the visual cues of food and prevent mindless eating.
8. Talk yourself into it. You have talked yourself into plenty of things before, why should this be any different? Tell yourself you can do it. Every day, think to yourself, “I am doing great,” “I can stick to my plan,” “I am maintaining a healthy weight,” and “I can stay on track.”
9. Practice relaxing. Stress is a prime cause of overeating. Prioritize time to reflect and relax every day. This can be time spent doing something you love, meditating quietly, or taking a walk. Take time for yourself so that you can be the best you want to be throughout the year.
10. Keep it real. Be realistic with yourself. Don’t expect dramatic weight loss immediately--not a realistic goal. Stay on track, keep focused and make small sustainable steps toward your goal. Five pounds that are avoided are five fewer pounds that you will have to take off.
For more tips on good health, visit the UH Texas Obesity Research Center at http://grants.hhp.coe.uh.edu/undo/?page_id=504.