First Steps for Getting Healthy This Year

We all make New Years resolutions, especially about getting healthier. Don't know where to begin? Here are some simple first steps
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We all make New Year's resolutions, especially about getting healthier. Don't know where to begin? Here are five first steps to take.

1. FOOD: Out with the old, in with the new

Clean out your pantry, fridge and freezer. Banish fatty junk foods from the house (if they aren't there, you won't eat them). Don't use the excuse that other people in the house want those foods; you are all better off without them. Use the leftover goodies to whip up some belated holiday treats to give away and donate non-perishables to a local food pantry or soup kitchen.

Restock with healthy and fresh foods: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, eggs, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. There is still room for snack foods and sweet treats -- just go for 100 to 150 calorie portions of tortilla chips, whole grain crackers, pretzels, frozen yogurt and dark chocolate. Compliment these snacks with fresh fruits and veggies.

2. Make a pact with yourself

Using a contract to set goals is empowering! Seeing your promise in writing makes it real. Goals such as "I want to lose 30 pounds" or "I'm giving up all sugar" don't work as well as small goals that help you reach your ultimate destination.

    Try one of these short-term goals:
  • No soda or other high-calorie drinks
  • Snack on more fruits and vegetables
  • No more fried foods
  • Drink eight glasses of water daily
  • Bring lunch to work every day for a month
  • Cook dinner three nights this week

Create your contract and post it on the fridge. Sites like Stickk.com let you make customized contracts online.

3. Cook more, eat less

Think about it -- when you eat in restaurants or load up on take-out and processed foods, you almost always eat more calories, fat and sodium. Portions are larger; it's impossible to know exactly what you are eating; plus, you're paying a premium and want your money's worth. Start planning your dinners in advance -- that way you can create a grocery list you can stick to (it gets easier with practice). Keep it simple. Meal ideas and recipes should be quick and easy to fit in your lifestyle.

Breakfast: Try whole grain cereal with soy or low-fat milk topped with fresh fruit, a scrambled egg wrap with salsa, or a new oatmeal recipe.

Dinner: Prepare a simple chicken dish and serve with salad and a baked sweet potato or brown rice. Turn leftover chicken into a salad or wrap for lunch the next day.

Lunch: Don't want leftovers? Peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat or rye bread is our all-time favorite! With a piece of fruit and a glass of milk, it's a well-balanced meal.

    Recipes to try:
4. Secret Weapon = Exercise

You've heard it before, and that's because it's true. Healthy living and weight loss come from a combination of diet and exercise -- what you eat and how much you move. Treat yourself to a personal training session to learn what exercises work for you. Go to a spinning or belly dancing class with a friend. If the gym is not your thing, invest in a some kickboxing or yoga DVDs.

Multi-task! Do sets of push ups and crunches while watching a favorite TV show, and 30 minutes of exercise will fly by. Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

5. Stay positive

Keeping up with diet and exercise goals takes work -- hard work! Having a positive attitude makes those road bumps a little smoother.

Nobody is perfect, so be forgiving when you slip up. It's also important to reward yourself once you accomplish a goal.

  • Escape in a warm bubble bath
  • Buy a good book
  • Treat yourself to a spa treatment

Remember, being in a positive state can help you and those around you stay motivated and on track.

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