by Tracey Shaffer, RDN, LD
January 19 is National Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day. Yes, there really is an official day for it and it is the third Tuesday in January each year.
If you are like most Americans, at one time or another you have tried a diet fad or gimmick that promised quick and easy weight loss only to find that the weight you lost was gained back in less time than it took to take it off. But how can you spot a fad diet?
A red flag should go up if it promises that a large amount of weight can be lost quickly, if fewer than 1,000 calories per day are to be eaten, if special foods need to be purchased, if no risks are provided or if large advance payments or long-term contracts are required.
Although not nearly as enticing as flashy diets or celebrity endorsed supplements, the best way to lose weight and keep it off is a balanced diet and regular exercise. Not only will you lose weight with this approach, you will improve your health as well.
So how do you get started implementing a well-balanced diet and exercise plan without following a pre-made meal plan, supplements or exercise gimmicks? Follow these three steps and you will be on your way.
Step 1: Create a Vision
What would you like your life to look like in 1, 5 or 10 years? This isn’t a number on the scale. This is the big picture of your well-being. Describe your ideal state of physical and emotional health. What does that look and feel like? Create a vision board by using pictures of your vision if it helps.
Step 2: Determine Your Goals
Goals get you to your vision. These can be reevaluated and changed along the way. Long-term goals are goals you want to reach in 6-12 months. Short-term goals are goals you want to reach in 3-6 months. Examples of long-term goals are to complete in a 5K race or to lose 50 pounds or to increase your strength and muscle mass.
Short-term goals may be to run 2 miles or to lose 20 pounds or to bench press 200 pounds. Whatever your goals, make them SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based. An example of a SMART goal is: I will run 2 miles per day on 3 days of the week (M.W,F)
Step 3: Write Down Weekly Habits
Habits are what you do daily/weekly that get you to reach your goals. These are the important things that create a lifestyle change if done consistently.
Examples of habits are eating 3 servings of vegetables each day or walking for 30 minutes daily outside.
Small habits help you reach your goals and can add up to BIG changes in your health, fitness, and well-being.
By following these three steps you will be on your way to a healthy new lifestyle.
And remember, consistency, not perfection, is the key to a permanent lifestyle change. Slow and steady always wins the race
Need a healthy dinner idea to meet your vegetable goals? Try this veggie-packed Minestrone on a cold evening: