I’ve found that it’s better to focus on the positive in life; you will be happier and healthier. The same is true for what you eat, how you exercise, and your body image; focusing on positive behaviors creates less stress because you focus on what you can do, rather than focusing on what you can’t do.
Try telling yourself that you can have a piece of fruit, rather than telling yourself that you can’t have junk food. Tell yourself you are proud of you for going to the gym, rather than being mad at yourself because you “should have” worked out harder. Be proud of the body you have, and the life you live.
It doesn’t work to tell yourself that you can’t have junk food because the draw of junk food is so powerful; by telling yourself this, you have doomed yourself to fail, and when people see that they have failed at their goal (even if the goal is too lofty) they give up on the goal entirely. Be kind to yourself. Everyone has days when things don’t work out the way they planned. Don’t punish yourself because you are human. Keep going. Don’t write off the day because you made a bad choice. Use that moment to get yourself back on track.
Load up on healthy foods. Keep a bowl of fruit in plain sight and this will help you to keep clean eating as your goal. Buy some tasty veggies, cut them up and keep them in the front of the fridge for those snack raids.
Is there a donut shop that you often stop by on your way to work? If you change your route to work, and don’t even pass by the shop, you will be less likely to stop in to buy that donut. Visual reminders (even reminders to eat the donut) are strong ones.
Do you often get a craving for cookies in the late afternoon? Plan a healthy snack into your day; you might be hungry and a planned healthy snack will help you fight off that cookie attack. Better yet, pair that snack with a healthy cup of green tea. This will give an antioxidant and caffeine boost to your afternoon.
Remember to take it slow. Set reasonable goals. Cut back on calories, say by 100 calories each day. Make small changes. Your body is designed to avoid starvation, and if you send it a hint of deprivation, it will slow down your metabolism in order to hang onto body mass. Implement small changes over time. Change from 2% milk to 1% or to non-fat milk. Make small changes that you won’t miss. Add an apple before dinner to help yourself feel fuller and eat less.
Don’t have an all-or-nothing attitude about life. Let go of your diet mentality. That only creates guilt and anxiety. Instead, ask yourself where you can make small changes. Walk up the stairs at work instead of taking the elevator. Change your salad dressing from ranch to vinaigrette.
Listen you your body and its cues. Don’t listen to your inner critic. Create a calm, nonjudgmental voice in your head. Relax and enjoy each bite of food, even if you are eating a piece of chocolate. Dark chocolate has antioxidants, and can be great for your mental well-being.
Exercise is a stress reducer. Strive for 10 to 15 minutes of resistance training per day, two to three times a week. Add in some cardio: walking, swimming, jogging, and I bet you feel better right away. According to Tufts’ John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition, after 40 years of age, our bodies lose 1/3 to 1/2 a pound of muscle each year while gaining that much in fat. If we keep up on exercise and clean eating, we can help ward off this muscle loss and weight gain.
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