Happy, Healthy New Year!

Now that the holidays have come and gone, many might find themselves holding onto a bit more than the happy memories and loving gifts: the unwelcome weight. The new year is a perfect time to start fresh by making some changes, but it is important not to get carried away, and to keep expectations realistic and healthy. We have put together a few, simple tips to aid you in your quest to shed the holiday weight, and make sure it stays off.

If you have been struggling with your weight on and off for several years, you should visit your general practitioner or doctor before making any serious changes. During a comprehensive checkup, your physician can rule out conditions that may be preventing your weight loss. It is also important to consult your doctor before undertaking a new kind of exercise regimen, particularly if you suffer from a health condition such as heart disease or diabetes. When you do begin exercising, work your way up from a beginner’s level, advancing gradually, instead of straining yourself doing too much too fast.

Take slow, small steps. If you want results that will last, try not to make too many drastic changes all at once. The reason so many new year’s resolutions are given up by February, is because they are too far-fetched and impossible to be kept up long-term. For example, if you are making changes in your diet, make one small change each week. Substitute an unhealthy item, such as a morning pastry, for some fresh fruit or yogurt, then switch from fried foods to grilled. The same idea applies to exercise: while it is a wise idea to start at a relatively beginner’s pace, the quality and quantity of exercise must also be increased as your body begins to change, in order to achieve lasting improvements.

Drink lots of water. Most people do not drink enough water. Mild dehydration prevents the body from properly carrying out certain functions, leaving us feeling drained and lousy. Thirst is not a good indicator to drink more fluids, because it is a sign that your body has already been dehydrated for hours. Drinking enough can also help the maintenance of a healthy diet. Whenever you feel yourself craving an extra snack between meals, drink a glass of water, wait 20 minutes, and see if it still seems like a good idea to give in. Bored of plain water? Add some 100% lemon or lime juice to your glass, or make a steaming cup of green tea, and flavor it with some lemon and a small dollop of honey. Another bonus of staying hydrated is improved texture and quality of skin, that looks more youthful and fresh.

Plan your snacks. Eating or dieting nutritiously does not necessarily require avoiding snacks. On the contrary, having three balanced meals a day, complemented by two healthy snacks can keep your blood sugar stable, and your metabolism working evenly throughout the day. It is important, however, to snack on the right kind of foods in mindful portions. Purposefully planning a mid-morning and a late afternoon snack may help you from munching on unnecessary calories other times. Some suggestions for worthy snacks include a cup of whole-grain cereal, a yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit, a handful of unsalted almonds or cashews. If your efforts at healthy eating tend to be compromised through unruly snacking, this small investment may earn you big results.

Get enough sleep. Sleep is a vital element of a healthy lifestyle, yet not many people actually get the amount of sleep their bodies require. Not only is sleep an ideal component of recharging the body and the soul, a sufficiently rested body is better equipped to handle stress and more likely to stay healthy. Being tired also increases the likelihood of making bad decisions about what to eat and whether or not to exercise. Fortunately, though, regular exercise helps us sleep better.

Armed with these helpful tips, and the knowledge you have gathered throughout the years on how to make successful, positive improvements to your health, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Never compare yourself to other people. Set your goals and plans while keeping in mind that you are dealing with your own, unique body, and always treat your body with respect and due consideration.

You can do it!

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