Start your year right

Published by Manila Bulletin on January 13, 2015

We all want to start the New Year with a clean slate, don’t we? Some of you might be thinking of going on a restrictive diet, starting an exercise program, undergoing detox, and anything that could help you effectively lose the excess weight you’ve gained over the holidays. I say to you now: Hold your horses and allow me to shed some light into how you could start a happy, healthy new year the right way!

The first thing that you should do is set realistic health goals and write them down. Any goal that has not been written down is considered a dream. And I’m sorry to say this but, sometimes, dreams just don’t come true in the real world. Read your goals and review them regularly to be able to keep track of your progress throughout the year.

13dietLet’s talk more about setting realistic health goals. Think of your health as a journey and not something that has an endpoint. Why? Because we should be aiming for something that is sustainable. One that will make you healthy for the rest of your life. If your goal is to lose 20 lbs in one month by going on a very low calorie diet and excessively working out each day, then yes that goal is possible. However, if you do not have the proper mindset to truly change your lifestyle into a healthier one, then all your hard work will be futile. You will easily regain those 20 lbs, or maybe even more. When your body tells you that it has been deprived and overworked, you will be compelled to give in to the temptation of overeating again and not exercising. This cycle of deprivation and indulgence will never end. You will be setting the same goals each year and end up making the same mistakes over and over again.

Let’s put an end to that, shall we?

There is nothing wrong with being specific as to the amount of weight you wish to lose this year, but bear in mind that it will take more than just dieting and exercising to help maintain your weight loss. You need to change your eating and exercise lifestyle patterns one step at a time.

Start by gradually decreasing your portion serving sizes. For example, if you’re used to eating two cups of rice per meal, reduce it to one and a half cups then a cup or half a cup depending on your body’s requirement. If you love to eat sweets everyday, do not totally cut down on it so you won’t feel deprived rather start reducing portions and incorporating fruits and smoothies into your diet to get that sweetness you are craving for.

It is also important to make a grocery list or plan your meals by adding some vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low fat dairy products instead of just drinking juices or eating soup, and crackers the whole day. Variety is key. You cannot get all the nutrients that your body needs for optimum health from just one type of food.

If you have been physically inactive for a long time, do not begin an intense exercise program. Slowly start with 10- to 15-minute exercises and gradually increase the duration, intensity, and frequency as you build more strength and stamina.

In the process of adapting healthy habits and slowly letting go of the unhealthy ones, you will eventually and steadily lose weight. Just be patient and realistic. You did not gain weight overnight therefore you will not lose weight overnight.

Drastic weight loss is difficult to sustain but gradual weight loss cannot be easily regained. So instead of focusing on being skinny right away, pursue health through holistic lifestyle modification, after all, healthy is the new sexy.