Start Each Day with Breakfast -
There’s a reason why we as dietitians stress eating breakfast every morning. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It provides you with the energy and nutrients to give your metabolism a boost and increase concentration whether at work or in the classroom. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast everyday are 40% less likely to develop belly fat than those who don’t. People who skip breakfast are more likely to overeat when it’s time for lunch, consume snack foods higher in fat and sugar, and miss out on vitamin and minerals that a simple breakfast would have provided. Read my Guide to Eating a Healthy Breakfast with recipes and tips to help you succeed. A new year's resolution for non-breakfast eaters could look something like: have breakfast 3-4 days a week...working up to every morning by the end of the year. For current breakfast eaters looking to make healthier choices, it could look something like: try including a source of protein (ex: 1 egg), whole grain (ex: 1/2 cup oats), and fruit or vegetable at each breakfast.
Start Exercising -
Exercise can improve mood, weight, energy levels, body composition, blood pressure, bone density…the list is endless. With a list like that, why wouldn’t you want to start exercising?! You don’t need a gym membership to start exercising. It can be as simple as walking outside with a friend, spouse, or dog before/after work or over your lunch hour. If you have time to watch your favorite hour-long TV show, you have time to get a workout in. During commercials, add body weight exercises. The workouts I provide to clients are high-intensity and completed in a short amount of time. This is most effective for improving body composition. If you are someone who needs the encouragement of others to get active, I highly recommend joining a gym. Before starting my private practice, I had the opportunity to work for two incredible fitness centers that provide a variety of awesome group fitness classes. For those of you living in the St. Louis area, try out Nutriformance and Athletic Republic. For those of you living in the Lincoln area, give Good Life Fitness a try. Check out my fitness blogs for workouts you can do on your own and with little equipment.
Drink more water –
Water is the most essential nutrient. Our bodies require a constant supply of water in order to function properly. Here are some tips to improve hydration: Leave a water bottle on your nightstand and aim to drink 16-20 oz. of water as soon as you wake up. Carry a water bottle with you daily. Thermos brand makes water bottles with a dial on the top where you can track how many times you’ve filled it each day. If drinking plain water is difficult for you, try adding a variety of items such as lemon, cucumber, mint, strawberries, berries, or oranges to your water for more flavor.
For Athletes - Start monitoring your sweat rate – Dehydration is a serious concern for athletes, as even a 2% fluid loss can result in impaired athletic performance. Monitoring your sweat rate is a good way to measure how much fluid you really need to replace the losses from sweating during your workout. The easiest way to learn your sweat rate is by weighing yourself before and after you exercise. For each pound lost during exercise, you will need to drink 16 oz (2 cups) of water.
Make the Switch to Whole Grains –
Whole grains provide a variety of health benefits. From their high fiber and nutrient content, to the positive effect they have on cholesterol levels and weight management, it is a smart choice switching from enriched white bread. So how do you know if what you are eating is a “whole grain”? Ingredient labels can be deceiving. Just because it has the word “wheat” or “grain” does not mean it’s a whole grain. If you are buying whole wheat bread for example, it should say “100% whole wheat”. The first ingredient on the ingredient label of any whole grain should read: bulgur, oats, brown rice, whole grain, or whole wheat. Products that call themselves “multi-grain”, “12-grain”, “7-grain”, and “wheat berry” are not 100% whole grains. Read my blog here for everything you need to know about bread.
Get More Sleep –
Sleep is very important not only in keeping unwanted weight off, but also to improve stress and energy levels. Studies have shown that individuals who get six or less hours of sleep at night are at a much higher risk of obesity than those who get seven hours or more. Sleep is also a critical part of training and recovery for athletes. Averaging 7-8 hours a night is a good goal to accomplish.
Try New Foods -
Including a wide variety of foods in your diet keeps things interesting. Break out of your routine every now and then to a try a food you've never tried before. With how many fruits and vegetables are out there, there's a good chance there's one you've never tried. Or maybe you've heard people talk about whole grains such as bulgur or quinoa...Unsure how to prepare them? Check back on my recipe page often for new recipes. Follow me on Instagram & Twitter (@eleatnutrition) and my Facebook page for new recipes weekly. You can also email me at email@example.com for tips on how to prepare certain foods. Try to add at least one new food to your diet each month, providing you with a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts and seeds.
Make Realistic Goals –
No matter what your goal is, whether it’s to lose weight, gain weight, or improve your performance, it’s important to set smaller realistic goals to meet each month. If you just have your end goal in mind with no plan on how you are going to get there, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If your goal is to lose 25 pounds by this May, figure out a plan on how to monitor yourself and lose 5 pounds per month to get there in time. Monitoring yourself is so important to see success. Set up a time to meet with me to access your current diet routine, and go over what needs to be altered to help you reach your goals. Do not deprive yourself, and don’t confuse a single failure with a sign of defeat! No one is perfect. It’s all about finding a balance between what you love and what is good for you. If weight loss is a goal for you this year, check out my blog on the 5 simple steps to weight loss success.