By Joanna Reagan, Army Public Health Center registered dietitianFebruary 18, 2020
Many of us start the New Year with the best of intentions and a resolution to lose weight and get into shape. How are you doing? Experts say it takes at least 21 days for a new habit to kick in and stick, so that would take you part way through January. A review of life changing habits research shows it takes an average of at least 66 days for a new habit to become automatic. If you started to change your eating and exercise habits Jan. 1, you need to keep going at least until March 6, and even longer for the magic to work.
The Performance Triad is the synergy of sleep, activity and nutrition all together to help achieve your goals. Here are some strategies to help you with different healthy goals:
1. Be specific with your exercise goals. Be precise about what, when and how you plan to exercise. For example, instead of telling yourself, “I’m going to exercise more”, change it to, “I’m going to take a 45-minute walk/run right after work three days a week and take my workout clothes with me”.
2. Burn more calories during the day. Find and seize all opportunities to keep your metabolism burning during the day. For example, take the stairs whenever possible, park your car farther away from entrances, and get up 30 minutes earlier to fit in a morning workout before other commitments take over.
3. Accountability. Ask a friend to start working out with you or try a new class. Activity trackers can help to track your steps and minutes of physical activity.
4. Spend more time outdoors. You don’t have to be athletically inclined to take more time to enjoy the fresh air. In the winter, it is a matter wearing the right clothing for the environment.
5. Abs are made in the kitchen and not in the gym. For example, three chocolate chip cookies have around 400 calories, depending on their size. The more vigorous the exercise, the faster you burn those 400 calories. A 155-pound person will burn about 400 calories by vigorously riding a stationary bike for 30 minutes, but only about 200 calories during that same amount of time doing low-impact regular aerobics. A 125-pound person needs 45 minutes of high-impact step aerobics, or almost an hour doing low-impact step aerobics or high-impact regular aerobics, to burn 400 calories.
6. Use smaller bowls, plates, serving spoons, and cups. Trick yourself into eating smaller portions by downsizing your dishes and serving spoons. Just by reducing the amount you serve yourself, you’ll take in fewer calories and lose weight.
7. Think twice before taking a second helping. Sit-down, slow-down and savor your food rather than eating while watching your screen or standing in front of the fridge. Being more mindful of what, how much, and why you eat can help you identify “triggers” that lead to overeating. Put your fork down or take a sip of water between bites to help you slow down. Always pre-portion your snacks to help you control your calories.
8. Bet on yourself and against others. Put up cash to keep your weight down. People who promised to forfeit money if they failed to lose weight will lose more pounds than those who didn’t have anything at stake. Make weight loss fun and keep yourself accountable by signing up for a weight-loss challenges.
9. Sleep to stay strong. When you’re sleep deprived, your willpower goes down and the number on the scale goes up. Sleep deprivation disrupts hormones in your body that help you regulate your hunger and fullness, making it easier to gain weight. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night to help you lose weight. Getting enough rest will help you feel more energized, stay more active, and make better food decisions throughout the day.
10. What is the best diet to follow? If your goal is to lose weight? U.S News & World Report ranks the best diets for 35 different diets from a panel of health experts with a scoring system looking at relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss and protective against diabetes and heart disease. For more information click here: https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-diets-overall.
Good luck with the New Year and your health goals. Hopefully, by the end of March your goals will be new habits. For more P3 information, check out the https://p3.amedd.army.mil/.
The Army Public Health Center focuses on promoting healthy people, communities, animals and workplaces through the prevention of disease, injury and disability of Soldiers, military retirees, their families, veterans, Army civilian employees, and animals through population-based monitoring, investigations, and technical consultations.