Whether it’s groceries or a goal weight, putting it down on paper helps you stay focused. Lists serve as guides and reminders, and they can be effective tools to help you reach your fitness goals.
Menus to map out your week
A weekly menu is one type of list that will help you stick to healthy eating. Planning your meals for the week keeps you on track and helps you identify gaps in nutrition. This gives you a chance to revise your plan so you don’t end your week with too few vegetables or too much added sugar.
Shop for healthy foods
If you go to the supermarket without a well thought out list, you may leave with a cart full of unhealthy foods meant to satisfy a short-term craving. Create a list of the foods you need to make healthy meals throughout the week. Take the list with you and stick to it at the store. With a kitchen full of nutritious foods, you will be prepared to eat better and resist tempting, high-calorie treats.
Make exercise a priority
When you put your to-do list in writing, those tasks become a priority. Whether you jot down a 5-minute break to walk the stairs or block out 30 minutes to go for a run, write down your workouts on the same list you use to record errands and tasks.
Work with your schedule
A to-do list is a revealing indicator of your eating and exercise patterns for the week. As you make a list of tasks for the week, complement it with a list of where and what you plan to eat and when you will workout. You will be prepared to pack a healthy lunch on the day with back-to-back meetings, and you can plan to wake up early for exercise when you have a nighttime obligation.
Visualize your goals
What would you like to accomplish in one month? What about in six? Goals like losing inches or running more miles are accomplishments you build up to. You go down one pant size and then two, and you run two miles before you can run six. Writing down your short term goals helps you visualize your long term goals. Making a list of what you want to accomplish is the first step in creating a plan to get there.
Healthy snacks that are rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fat curb hunger and cravings. Keeping these snacks to fewer than 200 calories helps you avoid exceeding your daily calorie budget for weight loss. Try one of these ideas for smart snacking.
Hummus pita pizzas.
Top a warm whole wheat pita bread with two tablespoons of hummus. Shred one medium carrot and sprinkle it over the top. Cut into wedges before serving. 160 calories
Bean dips with fresh veggies.
Combine one can of beans with your favorite herbs and spices in a food processor to create a dip for vegetables. Try four tablespoons of this Spinach Bean Dip with Smoked Paprika with one cup of sliced cucumber. 104 calories
Fresh fruit with ricotta and honey.
Top one cup of mixed berries with two tablespoons of part-skim ricotta cheese. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of honey. 135 calories
Chopped tomatoes with feta and basil.
Chop one cup of cherry tomatoes. Stir in two tablespoons of feta cheese, one teaspoon of olive oil and two chopped basil leaves. 133 calories
Jerky and a piece of fruit.
Choose turkey or buffalo jerkies made with natural flavorings that are low in sodium and sugar. Pair one ounce with one cup of pineapple. 134 calories
Nut butter on whole grain toast.
Spread one tablespoon of cashew butter on a slice of your favorite whole grain toast. Top with one tablespoon of fresh blueberries. 178 calories
Combine one cup of your favorite frozen fruit with one cup of low-fat milk and one teaspoon of honey for quick smoothie. Try one half cup of raspberries with one half cup of peaches. 175 calories
Research shows that a walking program can result in successful weight loss. You can boost the calories burned and the likelihood that you will stick with your plan when you incorporate a few simple guidelines.
Put in the time.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, 150 to 250 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise (walking) can result in modest weight loss, but more significant weight loss requires more than 250 minutes. This means that if you truly want to initiate changes in your weight you should commit to at least a 50 minute walk, five days per week. If you are a beginner, do what you can now and work up to this goal. If you put in the time, you will get the results.
Step up the intensity.
Boosting the intensity of your walk will help you burn more calories. Try speed intervals by walking quickly for 60 seconds and recovering at a slower pace for 30 seconds throughout the workout. Take an outdoor route with hills or stairs, or increase the incline on your treadmill. Break up your routine by hiking on the weekends. The hills, elevation, and rough terrain will challenge you to work harder.
It takes time to build your fitness level and to burn the necessary calories for weight loss. With consistent exercise, your body will be able to push harder and longer to boost calorie burn. Going out for a leisurely walk once a week may provide health benefits, but it likely won’t be enough to initiate weight loss. Pick the number of days that you can commit to exercising and stick with it to see results.
Give it purpose.
Use your walk to run errands. A 25-minute brisk walk to and from the post office counts as a workout. Once you get to the mall, walk the halls for 30 minutes before you start shopping. Invite your co-worker to a walking meeting. One study showed that people who walked the dog for just 20 minutes, five days per week lost an average of 14 pounds in a year. When your workout helps you accomplish a task, it is much easier to squeeze it into your day.
Make it fun.
A walk doesn’t have to be a boring stroll from one point to the next. Mix things up by adding strength training circuits. Walk 10 minutes, stop and do 15 squats. Walk 10 more minutes, stop and do 20 calf raises.
Ask friends to join you or reserve your walk for special time with a loved one. The more enjoyable your exercise the more likely your workout will be something you want to do, not something you have to do.
Don't let a slip up in your eating and exercise plan get you down. Everyone experiences setbacks and the more quickly you get back on track, the faster you will reach your long-term goals.
Step 1: Accept your mistakes.
Engaging in negative self-talk will only prolong your setback and increase feelings of guilt stalling your progress. Stop beating yourself up. Accept your mistake and vow to do better. Forget the past and focus on the present, which will keep you on track for a healthy future.
Step 2: Make a list of what went wrong.
There is a reason you aren't reaching your goals and it’s important to be honest with yourself to determine why. Have you been skimping on your water intake? Maybe your portion sizes have increased. Have you skipped a few workouts? Write down all the actions that could prohibit your progress.
Step 3: Revisit your current plan.
Once you know what is going wrong, revisit your current plan and determine how you can change it. Is leaving your workout for the end of the day making it more difficult to squeeze it in? Try some morning exercise for a while. Start measuring your food to get a handle on portion sizes. Limit desserts to specific days each week to avoid overdoing it.
Step 4: Record more frequently.
When you get a handle on healthy eating and exercising, it’s easy to slack in your commitment to record food intake and workouts. Waiting to record your data at the end of the day or doing so only a few days per week increases the chances that you will forget a snack or misjudge how hard you worked at the gym. Make time to record important nutrition and exercise information soon after the event for accurate reports that lead to positive changes.
Step 5: Set a deadline.
Once you determine the problem and make changes in your plan, set a deadline. If you still aren't seeing improvements, or you continue to come up short with nutrition and exercise after three to four weeks, you will need to take another look at your plan. Adopting healthy habits is a process. You may need to revise your plan several times before you find the perfect combination that works for you.
Successfully making healthy changes has a lot to do with your attitude. As with any challenge, you will hit road blocks and you will need to overcome obstacles. The more positive your attitude, the better your chances of powering through these barriers and making permanent change. Here are four ways to improve your attitude and reach your weight loss goal.
Eliminate negative words
Labeling the foods you eat as good or bad, or using terms like guilt and cheat may have a bigger effect on your behavior than you realize. Negative words create negative emotions, which can lower self-esteem and cause feelings of guilt. A recent study found that subjects who associated chocolate cake with guilt rather than celebration were less likely to lose weight over a three month period. Choose healthy foods, reduce portion sizes, and enjoy occasional treats without mentally beating yourself up with negative words.
Use positive affirmations
At first, reciting positive affirmations to yourself can feel uncomfortable or silly. But over time you will recognize just how powerful this practice is for promoting positive self-talk. Keep affirmations in the present tense. They should be loving, accepting, and motivating. Select a few favorite affirmations and recite them to yourself when you wake up in the morning, when making a healthy food choice, or when you don’t feel like exercising. These are a few examples:
Each time I make a healthy choice, it makes a positive difference.
Be patient. Success takes time.
I get to exercise today.
I control my choices. I choose to eat healthy foods and exercise.
Resist the snowball effect
When an unexpected event forces you to miss a workout, or when you just can’t resist a morning pastry, it’s tempting to consider the day, or even the week, a complete failure. If you stop there, you’ve only missed your daily goal by a few hundred calories. Throw in the towel and give up on your weight loss efforts, and you may end up eating thousands of extra calories and missing out on a week of progress with your workouts. Change the way you approach a setback. Don’t let them snowball into days and weeks of getting off track. Stay positive, move past it, and continue on with healthy choices.
Surround yourself with supportive people
Choose to spend your time with those who build up your positive attitude, not those who bring you down with negativity. During times when you don’t have control over your environment, give yourself ample breaks to renew your energy and attitude. Do your best at responding to negative comments with a positive outlook. Negativity has a way of transferring from one person to another, even when you try to avoid it. When your encounter is over, assess your own attitude and return to positive thinking by revisiting some affirmations.