January 1st brings the promise of a new year and a new you. The first week of January gyms are packed with people, weight-loss ads flood the media, and desserts are avoided like the plague. But when the calendar flips to February, old habits can start to creep in and before you know it you are off track.
How can you keep the excitement of your weight-loss journey alive for longer than a month? Here are 4 goal-sustaining suggestions:
1. Start smaller
Sometimes you can get so excited to start losing weight that you actually trip the starting line.
If you haven't exercised in 2 years, don't start with a plan to hit the gym for 3 hours a day. You will put too much pressure on yourself, and you might give up your new exercise routine completely.
Try easing into your exercise routine with a 20 minute walk around the neighborhood. When you find that becomes too easy, increase your time or add an additional activity like pushups. Soon you may find yourself running a 5k or doing 20 pullups, all because you worked up to it.
2. Cook delicious homemade meals
"Healthy" and "delicious" can feel like complete opposites, but believe it or not, you can actually make nutritious food taste yummy.
Search online for healthy cooking blogs or pick up a cookbook at the bookstore. Try different recipes and keep a list of your favorites.
One cookbook that could help is 400 Calories with Our Best Bites. It's filled with tasty recipes you can feed the whole family. The recipes are all less than 400 calories per serving and actually come with other nutritional information like fat, carbs, fiber, sugar, and protein. Make the time to cook dinner at home, and it may surprise you how much it helps you lose the weight.
3. Give rewards along the way
Give yourself a pat on the back as the number on the scale goes down.
Every week and every month reward yourself for your hard work. For weekly rewards, make a list of smaller items you want like a new bottle of nail polish or a candle. For monthly rewards treat yourself with bigger items like a night at the movies, a new book, or a new pair of running shoes. Give yourself something you can keep using during your weight-loss journey, don't use food as a reward.
4. Share your progress
Having someone to talk to and share in your success is a very important tool. Share weekly progress with your spouse, your walking buddy, or your neighborhood friends. The positive encouragement you receive will keep you motivated to exercise and eat well.
If you are really brave, you can even share your progress on social media. Share monthly updates on Facebook, take progress photos to share on Instagram, or start a blog to document your whole journey.