33.9% of adults in America are obese and 34.4% of adults are overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Knowing these stats, it might not be a surprise to learn getting healthy will be the number one New Year’s resolution for Americans. Yesterday, I wrote a blog on the benefits walking can have on your health if you do it for just 30 minutes every day. Today, I’m going to focus on some healthy habits you can adopt in the new year, and keep going for the rest of your healthy life.
Set achievable goals. Taking small, manageable steps toward your end goal is the best way to lose weight and start exercising — and continue to do it throughout the year, according to Good Housekeeping. Don’t schedule yourself for failure. If you know you can’t exercise every day, don’t schedule yourself for seven days at the gym. Also, whether you want to lose 5 pounds or 50 pounds, you’re going to have to do it one pound at a time. Break your weight loss goals into weekly weight goals.
Keep a food diary. According to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, keeping a food diary may be key to losing extra weight. The study showed overweight or obese adults who kept a food diary at least 6 days a week lost about twice as much as those who kept a diary for one or less days (WebMD). Get a small notebook to take around with you and jot down everything you consume, even a stick of gum or a diet soda. There are also a number of web tools, like SparkPeople, that don’t only serve as a food diaries, but also a community for those who want to get fit, a calorie calculator, and a designer of daily workouts.
Lower amount or cut-out processed foods. In a study by the Journal of the World Public Health Nutrition Association, researchers found Americans spend 90% of their food budget on processed foods, according to the article “Processed Food Diet Shown to Hinder Weight Loss and Promote Chronic Disease.”
But, what is a processed food? According to Body Ecology, processed foods are:
- Boxed, bagged, canned or jarred along with a list of ingredients.
- Foods that have been altered from their natural state for “safety” and convenience reasons.
If processed is so bad, then why do people eat it? Convenience. It’s easier and less time consuming to heat up a burrito than make a raw meal — but it’s not healthier. Many people turn to weight-loss shakes, bars, and frozen meals as allies to lose weight. However, these are processed foods and processed foods have been linked to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. There is a lot more to learn about the ill effects of processed food on your body and the benefits to a whole foods diet that you are encouraged to explore.
For some, getting healthy isn’t only about taking charge of your own health, but to make yourself a positive role model to your children and/or students. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- 18.1% of adolescents ages 12-19 are obese.
- 19.6% of children ages 6-11 are obese.
- 10.4% of children ages 2-5 are obese.
In an Education Week blog earlier this week, Bryan Toporek reported on the recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics which shows increasing healthy living habits in children isn’t a problem for schools, parents, and communities alone — it’s everyone’s responsibility. If you need motivation to keep your healthy habits going, think about who looks up to you and the positive things you are doing for yourself and those around you by taking charge.