Let’s face it. When January 1 rolls around, it’s pretty darn tough to crack down cold turkey and suddenly quit eating cookies and start exercising.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a simpler way to slowly ease your way into your weight loss resolution?
The fact is, you actually can make the transition much easier on yourself, and here are four ways:
1. Cut one snack at a time
It’s actually a complete myth that snacking “boosts your metabolism” (you can click here to read why), so if your day currently consists of random stops for things like yogurt, a handful of nuts, a microwaved meal, a mocha or latte, a muffin or any other popular quick snack, you should try to eliminate at least one of those snacks on a weekly basis, until you can shave things down to the point where you’re simply eating three healthy meals a day.
4. Slowly reduce carbs
Of all the food groups, carbohydrates tend to be the most notorious for expanding the waistline and not satiating your appetite. Fortunately, they’re also fairly easy to cut out if you begin to pay attention. For example, when you eat at restaurants, ask the server to not bring you chips or bread, to leave any “crunchy noodles” off your salad, and to substitute vegetables for potatoes or other starches. You can use lettuce or kale as a wrap for sandwiches (instead of bread), only sparingly use salad dressings (which tend to be high in sugar), and try to eat out of packages as seldom as possible.
3. Include walk-run ratios for cardio
One of the toughest elements of exercise for many people is running. It’s uncomfortable, it can hurt, and it leaves you huffing and puffing more than many other activities. But walk-runs are far easier, especially if you’re just getting started on a fitness program. To do a walk-run workout, you simply walk for a specified period of time, briefly run, and then start walking again. Every week, you decrease the amount of time you spend walking, so that it looks something like this:
Week 1: Walk 4 minutes, run 1 minute.
Week 2: Walk 3 minutes, run 2 minutes.
Week 3: Walk 2 minutes, run 3 minutes.
Week 4: Walk 1 minute, run 4 minutes.
You can repeat the walking to running transitions for whatever available time you have for your workout.
4. Keep a Checklist
Even the smallest rewards can trigger a feeling of satisfaction and pride that can actually trigger neurotransmitter releases in your brain that make you want to keep coming back for more — whether that reward is generated by eating healthy or exercising. You can amplify these “rewards” by creating a checklist that you keep on your refrigerator, a bulletin board in your office, or even on your computer, and simply “check off” your achievements, such as when you finish exercising for at least 20 minutes on one day, or you avoid processed sugar for a day. Every time you check something off you create a cycle of success that keeps you coming back for more.
No matter what your New Year’s resolution is, don’t feel pressure to do everything all at once, or you will increase your chances of getting overwhelmed and throwing up your hands in despair! Instead, use these tips to ease yourself into your weight loss resolutions.