Tuesday, January 6, 2009

7 Easy to Implement Steps to Improve Your Health & Attitude in '09

It's January 6th. How are you doing with your New Year's resolution to finally lose weight this year and feel better about yourself? Do you ever watch The Biggest Loser and get inspired? Or have you convinced yourself that the only reason they do so well is because the contestants get to check out of daily life for awhile? And of course they have access to Jillian and Bob who push them much harder then they ever thought possible! So that makes it something you can't possibly do on your own.

Although it's reality TV and I'm really not into reality TV for some reason this show is something I've taken an interest in because it is changing lives. Many people on the show lose more weight than they ever thought possible. They regain confidence, take up new careers as personal trainers or speakers to inspire and encourage others. In spite of the "game playing" on the show, you watch people transform, get their lives back and as a result want to help others. Something I identify with.

Different day, a little different drama. Mine was an eating disorder. But there's something about finally figuring it out after years of struggling with an addiction or compulsive behavior that gives you a level of confidence you never before thought possible. Something you want to scream from the mountain tops. Something you want to let everyone else know they too can have.

Whether you have a full-fledged eating disorder or are like the 75% of women who admit to having some type of "disordered eating" (that is excessive or constant focus on weight, body image, dieting, etc.) you can change. 2009 can be your year. The year you finally figure it out.

It takes a combination of getting your body chemistry back in balance by providing top-grade fuel in the form of nutrition rich foods with reprogramming your subconscious to believe in yourself and your goals.

Start by taking a few minutes to identify your goals. What specifically do you want to change about your health? Why do you want to change? Is your reason enough to help you adjust your lifesyle for good? This isn't a diet. Diet's are a waste of time. Resolve to change the way you eat, what you eat and how you exercise. What end result do you want? Be specific. Is it being able to run and play with your kids? Lower your blood pressure? Stop taking medication? Compete in a marathon? Feel like a million bucks in a bikini by June? Be specific.

Creating and repeating positive affirmations will help keep you focused on your target and plug it into your subconscious. Take time every morning when you wake and before bedtime to visualize and feel what it's like to be in that place--where you have already achieved your goal. How is your life different? What does it feel like to run the marathon, walk the beach in your new swim suit, walk the stairs without gasping for breath?

Here are a few simple steps to improve your diet and eating habits.

1. Plan Ahead:
  • You've heard it many times. Failure to plan is like planning to fail. It's the same with food. If you want to feel better tomorrow than you do today and greet next month a few pounds lighter than you are today, you have to plan. Create a map to get from the poor habits you have now to enjoying better habits.
  • Create a shopping list. Go back to basics. Wherever possible purchase fresh produce instead of frozen. And if that's not possible buy frozen before canned. The goal is to reduce the amount of processed food from your diet. Bring home the fresh broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, zucchini, cabbage, red potatoes, squash, garlic, fresh spices, apples, bananas, strawberries, whatever fruit is in season. For salad skip the iceberg and bring home fresh romaine, red leaf, or butter lettuce. Red and green kale and mustard greens are full of nutrients and are a great addition to your diet as are root vegetables (turnips, parsnips, rutabagas). If you eat meat purchase chicken and turkey breast, stick to lean cuts of beef or incorporate buffalo in your diet. Prepare turkey burgers instead of beef. Eat more fish.
  • Prep food in advance. Take one day a week and prepare food for the week. Take 30 minutes and wash and cut up the fresh produce you've purchased. In the winter I like to prepare a crockpot of soup and cook squash (butternut, acorn, etc.) or brown rice ahead so it's ready for any meal. Wash and store fresh fruits. With food prepared you have no excuse for not fixing a healthy, nutritious meal. Steam or roast some veggies with lunch and dinner.
  • Prep raw veggie snacks. Cut up red cabbage, turnips, raw sweet potatoes, celery (it's ready for almond butter!) carrots or your favorite veggies.
2. Portions:
  • Make it easy to eat only what you need. A portion is equal to the size of your fist or the palm of your hand.
  • Use a small plate and dish up a serving of carbs, protein and vegetables.
  • If you're eating at a restaurant and your order is a full bowl or plate of food, section or mark off the equivalent of a fist size that you should eat. Take the rest home. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks! They'll be jealous when you look great from controlling your food intake and improving your health. Take a minute and feel that experience, savor the feeling of looking and being at your best. That should far outweigh any thoughts you have of being embarrased about proactively portioning out your food. Besides what other people think isn't any of your business!

3. Eat balanced meals that include one serving of carbs and protein at every meal.

  • Add vegetables to at least two meals.
  • Make sure at least once a day you eat green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, kale, green beans, etc.)

4. Eat a minimum of every 3-4 hours.

  • Keep your blood sugar happy. By eating 5-6 smaller meals a day, or 3 meals a day with healthy snacks your metabolism will thank you. Skipping meals lowers your blood sugar which leads to cravings and bingeing.

5. Have plenty of healthy snacks available:

  • Skip the grease, sugar and fatty junk. Stock up on raw or dry roasted (no salt) almonds, walnuts, raisins, raw veggies, celery and almond butter.

6. Lose the sodas and caffeine!

  • Replace sugar filled sodas and diet sodas with water. You'll have more energy and lose easy pounds without even trying. If you drink a lot of coffee, eat chocolate daily, or use another form of caffeine to survive, map out a plan to cut back your intake over the course of a week or two. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how much better you feel without it!

7. Alcohol - Empty Calories

  • Yeah, by now you think I don't want you to have any fun. Truth is alcohol is nothing but empty calories that are quickly absorbed into your system as straight sugar. The biggest issue if you're trying to drop a few pounds and improve your health is that alcohol lowers your resolve. After a drink or two there is little resistance to chowing on junk food. Calories that could easily have been avoided if you weren't drinking. You don't have to quit forever, but this is one easy way to jump start your way to improved health.

Remember, it's not about perfection. It's about persistance. This isn't a diet it's a change in lifestyle that will bring you more energy, confidence, health and happiness. So vow today to "lose" that unhappy attitude in'09. What you thinkk about and focus on is what you get. Focus, visualize and feel what it's like to be the new improved, healthier you!

For more details on putting together a plan that is specific to your needs. Visit my website: www.Lori-Hanson.com

In peace, balance and happiness,

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