If you are determined to adopt and maintain a healthy eating and exercise program in 2012, below are some strategies for getting healthy and fit for the year ahead:
• Be mindful of getting enough protein. Studies have shown that high protein meals (as opposed to high carb) are more satiating and easy to maintain. Lean meats such as chicken, salmon and low fat yogurt or cheeses are great choices. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, beans and different varieties of nuts contain protein. Getting enough protein also gives you the amino acids that help rebuild tissues and keep your immune system strong.
• Build strength training exercises into your weekly exercise routine to keep your metabolism efficient and in check. Studies show that for each pound of muscle mass, you burn 5-10 more calories per day. Weight lifting, resistance training and muscle toning work are some examples of ways to incorporate these into your daily routine. You can even set aside 5-10 minute intervals throughout your day during your lunch break and before or after work to squeeze these exercises in; carrying a pair of light hand weights in your car is a good idea so you can work these exercises in whenever you have free time and feel like a short workout!
• Increase the amount of sleep you get by aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Sufficient sleep is known to help weight loss and improve longevity. In a recent study, people who slept for 5 hours a night or less increased the amount of a hunger inducing hormone and decreased a hunger-suppressing one. So, for your metabolism and to feel rested, 7-8 hours of sleep is a good number to strive for!
• Avoid sugary drinks and concentrated alcohol beverages and stick to lighter choices like seltzer water, unsweetened or lightly sweetened tea, or coffee beverages that do not contain extra fillers or sweeteners. The body can store excess sugar as fat, thereby increasing weight gain, not to mention post sugar fatigue that can leave you feeling drained later on.
• Engage in healthy food games via mobile apps for your mobile device. Yup, believe it or not, research has shown that individuals who engage in these healthy-food games were more likely to make healthier food choices and discuss healthy eating habits with friends. Six-pack abs and Authentic Yoga are two examples that you can find on itunes.
• Set up a small home gym with just a few pieces of portable equipment like an exercise ball that you can use for resistance exercising and balancing; a resistance tube and/or small hand weights. All are relatively inexpensive and you do not have to get them all at once. Set attainable goals; remember, you don’t necessarily need to do a 2-hour workout, but brief bursts of exercise throughout the day are known to boost energy and metabolism; a little can go a long way.
As a suggestion, to remain super-committed to meeting your fitness and dietary goals, record in a journal at the beginning of the day what your goal will be for that day and then, revisit it at the end of your day to track your progress. Remember to incorporate small rewards here and there to celebrate your accomplishments. For more information on this topic, visit this link.