Getting Started on a Diet and Exercise Program
Changing your lifestyle doesn’t have to be an all or nothing event. You can make changes one at a time and still see the improvements in your health that you are looking for.
Setting realistic goals and expectations will make it more likely that you will stick with your program and institute healthy habits for a lifetime, rather than going on and off your plan.
The key components to a healthy lifestyle are healthy eating, exercise and drinking water. Each of these can be done in stages, and a new change implemented each week or on a gradual basis that will help with your success.
Increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest places to start. As a general rule, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you have five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
If you visit the CDC website, you can use the fruit and vegetable calculator by entering your age, gender and physical activity. This will give you a more accurate assessment of how many servings you should have each day.
Now that you know how many servings you should have, how do you increase your intake?
- Top cereal, waffles and pancakes with fresh fruit instead of syrup.
- Stir fresh fruit into your oatmeal.
- Add fresh vegetables to scrambled eggs or omelets.
- If eating fast food, opt for a side salad rather than French fries.
- Stir fresh vegetables into pastas, rice dishes, and other meals.
- Top sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, spinach, peppers and other vegetables.
- Try one new fruit or vegetable each week.
- As a snack, mix fresh fruit with plain yogurt, granola and cinnamon or nutmeg.
- Take fresh fruits and vegetables to work so you’re more likely to snack on them than junk food.
- Divide your fruits and vegetables into serving sizes when you get home from grocery shopping.
- Try doing a vegetarian meal one day a week.
- If you don’t have time to chop your fruits or vegetables, stop at a grocery store salad bar and pick up servings for the day.
- Add extra vegetables to soups.
- Fill half your plate with vegetables when you eat.
Choosing lean meat is another way to improve your healthy eating habits. A boneless, skinless chicken breast has sixty fewer calories than a chicken drumstick, and has eight fewer grams of fat.
A simple switch here can save you hundreds of calories and fat grams each year. Substituting ground turkey for ground beef can save fat and calories as well, as long as you look for the lean packages.
Substitute ground sirloin for regular ground beef and you can eat healthier as well. Choose lean ham or pork chops over their high fat counterparts.
Watch the preparation method of your food. Foods covered in sauces or fried add needless calories and don’t necessarily add more flavor. Order your salad dressing on the side and dip each bite into the dressing and you’ll save calories without sacrificing flavor.
Opting for a blackened piece of fish rather than deep fried will give you so much flavor you will never miss all the breading and fat.
Avoid foods that have the words battered, crispy, crunchy, white sauce or cream sauce, smothered, cheesy or various other words and you can save yourself plenty of calories. Look for words like grilled, broiled, baked and poached to save yourself needless calories.