Back on Track for the New Year: Common Sense Tips for Healthy Living
by Shelly Beach
My downfall was the pumpkin supreme pie and the mashed potatoes. Did I mention the pumpkin supreme pie?
What about you? Did you stray a bit during November and December and pick up a few extra pounds? Most of us indulge during the holidays, but it’s important to get back on track with healthy eating and exercise.
But just how do we do that?
First, it’s important to be aware of how we talk to ourselves about food. The things we tell ourselves set us up for success or failure.
used to hate getting on the scale until I realized weight is just a number. My attitude toward food is my problem. Stepping on the scale determines my starting point in taking control. Weighing is the way I measure my progress toward better health. The scale helps me measure my progress toward becoming a better steward of my body and a healthier me. It also helps keep me accountable for the occasional donut I eat on the way home from the grocery story.
Accountability is good. We know this, but we have to live it.
Take the first step. About 15 years ago, my weight peaked and my health crashed. I determined that I needed to get healthy, which included losing weight. I faced the scale and told myself, “With God’s help, this is the last time I’ll ever weight this much.” Then I created a healthy eating plan I could live with and joined an exercise club.
Start with your attitude. Too often our goal is to drop 15 pounds for a reunion or to slim down to look good in our summer clothes. While there’s nothing bad about wanting to look good, I believe we find greater success when our motive is linked to something deeper. When we’re motivated by honoring God in caring for our bodies, it’s easier to push away the french fries.
Begin small. Get on the scale and write down the number. Remember, your weight is inspiration for the direction you want to go. My goal 15 years ago was to become healthier and to begin to exercise. Numbers were a reality check. My goal was a slow and steady weight decline and consistent exercise. I did not set a number goal. Any loss meant I was headed in the right direction. I was establishing habits for the rest of my life.
Don’t diet. Don’t diet. Don’t diet. Dieting is by definition a temporary food plan. According to Psychology Today, “Why Diets Don’t Work and What Does,” October 21, 2010, approximately 95% of people who lose weight by dieting gain the weight back within 1-5 years. The first 40 years of my life proved this fact. I found success when I created a simple, healthy eating plan. I ate more healthy foods I enjoyed and fewer foods I knew were packed with calories, carbs and fats. Berries became my candy. Oatmeal was my new friend. Special K Protein cereal (dry from the box) replaced popcorn at the movies. I did not feel deprived because I liked the foods I ate.
I slowly lost 70 pounds, and I have not gained it back in over 10 years.
Set realistic goals. Be honest with yourself about what you can do. Health conditions make it difficult for me to exercise. I cannot run, can walk only short distances, and have horrible balance. But I am able to walk on our treadmill for five minutes. Yes, just five minutes, but I can walk five minutes four times a day.
You may have limits, but you can still make positive changes. Eat vegetarian two days a week. Do chair exercises. Replace your daily ice cream with a healthy yogurt. And don’t expect to lose a hundred pounds in two months. Change the way you look at food and address the reasons behind eating compulsions or addictions with a Christian therapist, the Word of God and prayer.
Find an accountability partner/health buddy. I don’t enjoy exercise, so I do yoga with a friend. I also joined a women’s exercise club with a friend. Change comes best when we partner with someone who helps keep us honest and focused. Look for a friend who will encourage you, not police you.
Conduct an inventory. What healthy foods do you enjoy? What treats do you enjoy? Find healthier variations or substitutions. My husband bakes delicious sugar free cookies and brownies.
My favorite foods include Special K Protein cereal, natural almonds, berries, mini carrots, high protein peach Greek yogurt, low fat mozzarella string cheese, clementines, apples, whole wheat mini bagels, chicken and fish.
Apply common sense. Most restaurants serve far more food than we can or should eat. When I order, I ask that half the meal be boxed to take home and only half of it be brought to the table.
I eat my favorite treats occasionally in small portions, and not frequently. I feel that totally restricting food can make us fixate on it. So I eat an occasional chocolate kiss or split a donut. And I still must have occasional onion rings.
I’ve found that my body tells me when I’m hungry. I eat smaller portions because I’ve found that I’m really not hungry very often. And I eat food that fills me up like apples, fresh vegetables and old-fashioned oatmeal.
Finish the race. Introduce routines that you can integrate into your life, sustain and enjoy. Deprivation is not the goal. Biblical celebration often focuses on feasts. Honoring your body should give you joy because it’s an act of stewardship and also because living in a healthier body brings freedom.
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 (Berean Study Bible)
Shelly Beach is the author of The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk: Conforming Deadly Thought Patterns to the Word of God.
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