By Andrea Luttrell, RDN, LDN
About half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, with approximately 8% achieving their goals. Why such low success rates? Oftentimes, goals are set without looking at the long term. So, while attending an aerobics class five days a week and not eating sweets might seem attainable now, it might not be sustainable over time. Instead, focus on small shifts to make big impacts.
Plan ahead. If leaving meals and snacks up to chance, odds are choices may be less than ideal. Think about what you’ll prepare for meals and snacks then create a weekly shopping list. By knowing you have sliced turkey with veggies on whole grain bread, fruit and yogurt for dinner, eating out at your favorite restaurant won’t be as tempting. Also keep in mind what a balanced plate looks like. Half filled with fruits and veggies, half with whole grains and lean proteins and a side of dairy. Modeling your plate this way is an easy way to moderate calorie intake.
Be mindful of beverage choices. Do you feel full after eating a cheeseburger at your favorite fast food joint? What about when you drink a medium flavored latte? You should – because you’re consuming more calories from the latte (330 calories) than you are from the cheeseburger (300 calories). Instead of weighing yourself down from sugary drinks without noticing, make the switch to calorie-free options like home-brewed coffee, tea, water and seltzer.
Incorporate movement. Being active doesn’t have to mean becoming a triathlete or going to the gym for hours a day. It simply means adding in 10 minute bouts of movement at least three times a day, when you might otherwise be sedentary – after receiving approval from your doctor. Instead of sitting down to have coffee with friends, enjoy conversation while walking the mall. Used to sitting on the couch after dinner? Spend 10 minutes lifting small weights or doing stretches. While it might not feel like much at first, little nudges toward health make big differences over time.
Prioritize stress management and sleep. These two areas are often overlooked, though they’re incredibly important when it comes to weight. When the body is under continuous stress, hormones are released which increase appetite. Additionally, stress also seems to affect preference for higher-calorie foods. In regard to sleep, most people need between 7 to 8 hours each night. More or less than that and hormonal changes occur, which increase appetite and calorie intake. Individuals who don’t get enough sleep each night also tend to exercise less and drink more alcohol than those people who do, which also contributes to weight gain.
About the Author: Andrea Luttrell is a registered dietitian nutritionist for the Living Well Eating Smart program at Big Y Foods. Have a nutrition question? E-mail or write Living Well at 2145 Roosevelt Ave, Springfield, MA 01102.
Reprinted from the January 2018 edition of the South Shore Senior News.