With the start of each new year, millions of Americans resolve to lose weight and live healthier lives. They join gyms or jump on the latest fad diet.
And then the reality hits that there are no shortcuts to weight loss, and momentum stalls.
Sometimes it’s the result of an overuse injury, of doing too much, too fast. In that case, a physical therapist can help you recover and plot a safer course toward achieving your health goals.
Other times, the culprit is a diet plan that suggests weight-loss results that aren’t practical or even safe. It’s easy to become discouraged and throw in the towel.
Changing diet and exercise habits should be made with the long term in mind. Of course, it’s never too late to start or to start over toward living a healthier life.
Vicky Barto, Upstream Rehabilitation’s director of talent acquisition and development, has endured her own personal weight-loss journey. She offers these 10 steps toward eating healthier, exercising more and losing weight:
- Be patient. It did not take you one day to gain the weight or become unhealthy, and it won’t turn around in a day. Slow and steady wins the race.
- Track food and movement. You need to establish a baseline of where you are so you can develop a strategy for where you want to go. Free apps such as Myfitnesspal can be linked to a Fitbit or Apple Watch to help.
- Identify your kryptonite. What food is your trigger and hard for you to stop eating once you start? Rather than going cold turkey, reduce portions of that food each week. After four or five weeks, you will find that you no longer need nor crave it.
- Clean out the junk food and processed food. Even frozen dinners have harmful sodium levels.
- Shop the fresh foods found in the perimeter of the grocery store rather than the processed foods on the inner shelves. This makes it easier to control the amount of fat and sodium in your diet.
- Stop eating fast food. Even the salads at restaurants may seem healthy but are loaded with hidden calories and sugars.
- Plan your meals. Make a weekly meal planner, follow it and track it in your meal tracker.
- Get moving. If you work from home, you can start by getting a standing desk or taking a walk during lunch. The goal is to increase your movement every week until you get to your desired level. Buying a gym membership is not necessary.
- Find an “accountability buddy,” or someone who will give you tough love when you need it and can be an encourager when you want to cave into old habits. You can share your meal and exercise tracker with them to keep you honest.
- Love yourself. At the end of the day, building a healthy lifestyle has to be something you want, not someone else. Love yourself enough to do it for you.
Getting healthy is a life-long journey. You may slip up or indulge in a “cheat meal,” and that is ok. Just go back to step one above and work the steps.
Or if your renewed emphasis on exercise sidelines you, a physical therapist can help.