Did You Vow to Lose?
by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner Losing weight ranks as one of the top New Year resolutions, every year. Make these daily activities part of a successful weight loss plan ... Each person's aspirations are unique. And, they shift every year to accommodate as we evolve through life's stages. Yet, the basics keep a common theme: a healthier life with more time among family and friends. Managing a healthy weight (specifically weight loss goals) and overall fitness are among the most popular goals for a new year. This is not surprising, considering over half of adult Americans are overweight or obese. As you toil to lose, know you are not alone. More than half the population strives to dedicate additional time to their personal relationships to better appreciate loved ones. Other resolutions ranked near the top include quitting addictions, such as cigarettes or alcohol; getting out of debt; and becoming more organized. All these hopes work in unison to achieve a happier life, which, in the end, is everyone's goal. Make a commitment to fitness. Conveniently, other resolutions will be simultaneously fulfilled. Regular exercise is associated with more health benefits than anything else. Here are some tricks your skinny BFF knows and that guy in the tank shirt at the produce stand. Make them yours. Make Exercise a Priority [caption id="attachment_8559" align="alignleft" width="150"] Don't just sit there. Work out![/caption] Schedule time for exercise. It seems obvious, yet this is one of the biggest obstacles to weight loss. An overwhelming 73 percent of women blame limited time as the reason for not exercising. Lack of time is often the reason cited for poor eating habits, as well. If you're serious about becoming fitter, losing that middle bulge, or lifting a saggy you-name-it, then plan better. Do what it takes to make exercise time, and healthy eating, a priority. Wisely use the time you do have. Non-exercise physical activity can account for up to 30 percent of total calorie burn. Ask a personal trainer for "portable" workout ideas. Isometrics while microwaving lunch, dumbbells during your favorite show, and core strengthening while at stop lights are a few ideas to keep you going. Pick your favorite Group Fitness moves and practice them at random. Make movement part of your daily routine. Be still when appreciating life's moments, not when staring dully at the TV. Practice realistic ratios. A trip to the Center for an hour or two is not a permission slip to laze around the rest of the day. It also shouldn't be rewarded with an eating frenzy. Although an amped-up fitness routine can increase hunger, satisfy it reasonably. Food indulgences after a sweat session can counteract weight loss efforts as well as some of exercise's other health benefits. Enjoy a smart snack that combines protein and carbs to satisfy hunger, replenish nutrients, and help muscles recover stronger. Learn about Nutrition So often, we are fooled by packaging and misconceptions. One member spent years thinking her yogurt snacks were a smart part of a weight loss diet. After meeting with a nutritionist, she learned the truth. Regular yogurt is often loaded with sugar. The protein and calorie counts vary greatly, depending on brand and serving container. It might not be the protein-packed, low-cal treat you thought. Read labels and make smarter choices. Label reading takes time, but it's a worthy investment. Once you investigate your favorite foods and usual choices, make any adjustments needed and you're set. When boredom arrives and replacements are found, we typically choose the same type of food. An initial investment of time makes way for long-term healthier eating. You also learn what to look for at a glance to meet your own nutritional requirements (e.g., lactose free, gluten free, low fat, low sodium). [caption id="attachment_8567" align="alignleft" width="150"] Those bites add up.[/caption] Avoid mental calorie tricks. It all adds up-- last forkfuls from your kids' dishes you refuse to waste, a plate's remnants from a full spouse, and bite-size nibbles throughout the day. It might not feel like over-indulgence as you leave the table, but those extra bites accumulate. When seriously attempting to shed pounds, keep track of all calories consumed, especially ones eaten while not paying attention. Try literally watching what you eat. Even a food scale can't accomplish that. [caption id="attachment_8561" align="alignright" width="150"] What's really inside? Find out.[/caption] Don't be deceived by package claims. Case in point: Marshmallows tout they are "fat free!" This hardly makes them healthy. Often, we stock up and chow down on foods advertised as organic or low cholesterol. Perhaps they are from high-end health food stores or fancy aisles in the market. One study proved food labeled as "organic" caused dieters to eat a lot more of it. Kudos for the nutritional gain, but excess still leads to weight gain. Calories remain calories, even if the source is organic, grain-fed, and antibiotic free. Beware of your changing metabolism. You're another year older in 2013. Adjust exercise and nutrition accordingly. Aging may reduce the amount of calories needed as metabolism slows. You're suddenly 40 years old and eat the same amount as always. Yet, you slowly creep on the pounds. For the first time, you may need to monitor your weight, which includes calorie intake and burn. If you want to stay in varsity shape later in life, it might take a few less snacks and a few more push-ups. Make sure you still eat nutrient-packed foods. Although you may have to reduce calories, nutritional requirements need to be met as much as ever. Acknowledge the Journey Weight loss does not happen overnight. It may, indeed, take the entire year to meet your weight loss resolution. Patience is required as much as any diet or calorie-busting move. If you are struggling, despite best efforts, talk with healthcare and fitness professionals. Perhaps there is an underlying reason, anything from a cardio workout that skimps on optimum heart rate or a medical condition. You may need to increase one aspect of your workout and decrease another. Perhaps you need an overall new fitness program. Get these issues resolved by taking advantage of the Center's support system. As you work your way to weight loss, you may find other New Year's resolutions are more easily accomplished. More energy allows quality enjoyment of family and friends. Improved mental health helps ease depression and self-doubt. Organizing everything from closets to the brain's gray matter is made clearer. Eating healthier is the counterpart to exercise in any weight loss attempt. The goal of better nutrition coincides with lost weight. [caption id="attachment_8574" align="alignleft" width="150"] Enjoy all aspects of a healthier life.[/caption] All of these are elements in a healthy life. Perhaps this year's goal should not be to lose weight, but to be well. Weight loss is only one aspect of this endeavor. Acknowledge the benefits of all the steps necessary to lose weight. Take your focus off the scale, which can move excruciatingly slow. Focus on your increased stamina and improved strength. Thrill in how that allows you to better function every single day. Realize this healthy lifestyle helps prevent cancers, heart disease, and a plethora of other conditions. You will feel better, and that looks great in any size. All this may happen before your waist shrinks. Give yourself credit for each outcome of healthier living. It's one of the secrets to weight loss. Sources "10 Things to Stop Doing If You Want to Lose Weight," by Malia Frey at www.about.com. "Top 10 New Year's Resolutions," by Albrecht Powell at www.about.com. "Why Do We Need Fewer Calories Per Day as We Age?" by Shereen Jegtvig at www.about.com. Image Credits Scale: Alan Cleaver Office exercise ball: http://www.flickr.com/photos/funnybusiness/407660203/ Food label: http://www.flickr.com/photos/beigephotos/5499282027/ Nibbles: http://www.flickr.com/photos/barkbud/4217348985/