Start small with your resolutions..

On December 24, 2009, in Uncategorized, by Andrea

Today is Christmas.

After all of the presents have been unwrapped, all of the paper and packaging have been taken out to the trash, all of the toys put away, and the feast devoured.. well, then we start thinking about the new year.

And for many of us, that means resolutions.

And for many of us, that means weight loss goals.

Keep an eye out — tomorrow a contest will be started with this in mind — but here’s something to give wings to thought…

From the Pine Journal:

This New Year resolve to make small, lasting changes for weight loss

By: Daniel Palmquist, M.D., Pine Journal

We’re turning the calendar over to 2010, and for many that means making New Year’s resolutions. You might be tempted to set lofty goals for yourself: completing a triathlon or losing 100 pounds by June. While optimism is a good thing, sometimes setting goals that are too big can actually keep us from taking small steps in the right direction.

This year, set yourself up for resolution success. Instead of resolving to completely change your lifestyle in one day, start out with one or two small changes and work up gradually to bigger steps.

Losing weight

Weight loss is the number one resolution for many of us. But if you’ve got more than a few pounds to lose, the task can seem daunting. Lose the weight by breaking it down into attainable increments – five or 10 pounds at a time. By making small changes to your diet and exercise routines, you’ll see how doable it is to lose the weight.

And, according to the National Institute of Health – small losses can equal big gains. Dropping 10 pounds can lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. It decreases your risk for heart attack, stroke and diabetes.

Diet

A small change in your diet can add up to positive benefits over time. Start with snacks. Replace chips (loaded with sodium and fats) with fresh fruit or vegetables – baby carrots, celery, an apple or orange. Eliminating one serving (13 chips) a day and replacing with fresh fruit or vegetables saves you 100 calories, provides you with valuable nutrients and helps you on your way to the getting the USDA’s recommended eight to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day (wwwDOTmypyramid.gov). Do this for a year and you’ll save a whopping 36,500 calories – or about 10 pounds.

Once you are comfortable replacing one snack a day, go for two. Then, move on to make your breakfast healthier. Replace buttered white toast with a single slice of whole wheat topped with a teaspoon of your favorite jam or jelly. Low fat yogurt and skim milk are great ways to add calcium and protein to your first meal of the day. A spoonful of flaxseed added to that yogurt adds important Omega-3s to your diet. A piece of fresh fruit puts you one step closer to your USDA recommendations for the day.

Tempted to skip breakfast? Don’t. According to the American Heart Association, breakfast eaters are less likely to be obese than non-breakfast eaters.

After you’ve made breakfast a healthful habit, tackle lunch. Start by adding one piece of fresh produce to you lunch each day. Replace soda with water or skim milk. And so on. When you’re healthy lunch changes have become habit, move on to dinner.

Water

By weight, our bodies are over 50 percent water, so it only stands to reason that water is an important part of our diet. Vital organs – the heart, brain, kidneys and liver – need water to work properly.

We’ve all heard the recommendation about drinking eight glasses of water a day. If that sounds like a big step, start small. Add one extra glass of water to your diet each day. Start first thing in the morning; drink one glass of water before you brush your teeth. Here’s one small step that will be done before you know it. Within two weeks, you’ll have a habit that feels like you’ve been doing it for years. You may even find yourself waking up thirsty in the morning!

Second step – replace one sugary soda a day with a glass of water. If you normally drink a can of pop with lunch, swap it out for water. You’ll save nearly 150 calories. Over a year’s time, that adds up to almost 15 pounds. Do the same at dinner and your water intake is further increased and you’ve eliminated more empty calories from your diet.

Exercise

Exercise provides numerous benefits – in addition to helping you lose weight. It helps maintain your bones, muscles and joints, reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes, reduces the risk of death from heart disease and promotes psychological well-being. Short-term benefits include increased energy, stress management, improved mood and increased mobility.

Exercising for an hour a day, seven days a week is a great goal. But, for many, it may seem unattainable.

With exercise, anything is better than nothing. A 15-minute walk around the block beats sitting on the couch watching the latest reality show. And, walking burns calories. One 15-minute walk burns about 100 calories. Double that for 200; gradually build up to five times a week and you are at 1,000 calories. That’s nearly 15 pounds over a year’s time. Small steps (literally) do add up.

Exercising alone is great, but research shows that people are more likely to maintain an exercise plan when they team up with a buddy. Tip the scales toward success by finding a friend, co-worker or spouse to take that walk with you.

It’s a new year, a time when we feel motivated to make positive changes in our lives. If your goals for 2010 involve weight loss, consider taking small steps toward larger gains. If you plan to begin a rigorous exercise routine or substantially alter your diet, please consult with your physician regarding the best and healthiest ways to do this. Here’s to 2010, a year when small steps really can get you to the finish line.

Dr. Palmquist is a board certified family practice physician at Raiter Clinic in Cloquet.

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