Making 2017 the Year of Your Health
Three years ago to the day (January 3, 2014) I began my own health and wellness journey. At the time, I weighed just shy of 230 lbs. (about 60 lbs. overweight for someone my height). I was a smoker. I drank 3 to 4 cans of soda a day. I was a mess and felt awful; I was out of breath and couldn't stand the sight of myself in a mirror. I needed to make a change, but change is very difficult. But, it can be done.
Here are my tips to making a healthy resolution you can keep.
- Make a Plan and Stick to it. Essentially, every diet boils down to 'eat less and move more,' but sometimes it is not that simple. When I started dieting, I knew very little about nutrition and healthy eating. I knew I needed help. I learned about The 4-Hour Body from a friend and read the pages covering "The Slow Carb" diet.
I won't lie, when I read it I thought it sounded like nonsense and had no way of working, but I had nothing else to base my diet on and gave it a shot anyway. Eventually, it worked but not as advertised. The biggest lesson I took from the book was portion control, to eat until I was satisfied and not until I felt sick.
- Have a Cheat Day Once A Week. This tip also comes from The 4-Hour Body, but I would not have been able to diet successfully without it. The explanation the book gives about cheat days has to do with changing hormones in the body, but the reason I think it works is simpler denying yourself something you like forever is impossible.
I have a bit of a fast food addiction. I need to try out the latest product from Taco Bell and McDonald's. While I was dieting, watching the commercials for these products drove me nuts (you really don't notice the sheer amount of food commercials until you can't eat any of it). Instead of feeling depressed that I would never try it, I just told myself "wait until cheat day" and then went back to eating skinless chicken breast with a side of spinach.
- Use the Buddy System. Your first-grade teacher was really on to something with the buddy system. While I was dieting, I was fortunate enough to have my friend and roommate dieting at the same time. We were able to keep each other honest and provide support to each other. Also, since we were both dieting, there was no junk food in the house which also helped.
- Don't go to the Gym. This may be a bit controversial, but I am proof that it works. I lost 50 lbs. before I even thought about exercising at all. I blame this on the cascade effect, once you get the self-improvement bug, it can be hard to stop.
I truly believe that if I had changed how I approach food with the diet and started exercising at the same time, I would not have kept the diet going past January. But because I made gradual changes, I was able to make lasting improvements in my life.
Today, I am no longer overweight. I exercise regularly and do yoga. I eat salads and have maybe one soda a week. But I still struggle with weight. The holidays - with a seemingly endless supply of candy and cookies - set me back. Not to mention that my gym was closed for renovations. But, with a few ups and downs, I have kept the weight off with these tips. They worked for me, and I hope they can work for you too. Have a healthy and happy 2017!