Detox from the holidays
Everybody does it: over-indulge just a bit in December: take some extra egg nog, eat some extra pastries. Hey, you earned it, right? 2010 was one difficult year all around! But once the holiday decorations are safely boxed up again and your life begins to resume its normal shape, you turn your mind to making some changes in your life to fully realize a new and more healthy you. Be it changes in your beauty regimen, vowing to exercise more and consume less, or tailoring your diet to help you look and feel better, most everyone spends the first week in January taking stock and making some commitments to change for the better. Well, when it comes to making changes, there are some best practices and recommended changes you can make that will help you do it right in 2011 and make the changes permanent.
Set goals and make incremental changes
I know you’ve heard it before, from nutrition experts, personal trainers and life coaches who stake their reputations on knowing how people and their bodies work: SET GOALS FOR YOURSELF. And I’m not talking those Big Dream goals, I mean the small ones that you can celebrate next week and a month from now. (And steer clear of rewarding yourself with food—get a massage, buy yourself some new clothes, or treat yourself to some spiffy new deco for the house.) If your goal is weight loss, make a plan to lose 1-2 pounds a week (which is typically what doctors recommend). Losing a lot of weight by taking on an extreme low calorie diet or crash diet rarely lasts beyond the last day of starvation. And when making all those lovely long-term plans, make sure to identify and implement incremental changes to help you get there. Changing everything at once—promising to go from carnivore to vegan, run 15 miles a week and volunteer for 10 hours of charity work every week—will more than likely end in miserable failure, unless you have truly Herculean amounts of self-control and discipline. (And if that’s the case, more power to you!)
Post-holiday detox changes you can make today:
• Exchange one soda for a glass of water. Nutrition experts and doctors the world over have banded together to loudly decry the continued mass consumption of soft drinks and other high-sugar beverages. Whether diet or full sugar, these drinks are bad news and often spell disaster for well-meaning dieters’ weight loss goals.
• Exchange one impulse, nutritionally deficient snack for a healthy snack a day.Eating an apple and a handful of almonds in the afternoon, as opposed to a grab bag of chips or a candy bar, will help boost your energy and still those hungry grumblings until dinner. For a super boost, try Runa, a tea-like drink that imparts the benefits of caffeine without the crash and the less savory side effects of another cup of coffee or an iced tea.
• Get a little more exercise every day. And by this, I am certainly not telling you that you need to join an expensive gym, or hit the treadmill for an hour every morning. I am a firm believer in slowly and steadily increasing exercise until you reach a goals. Walk around the block tomorrow morning. 5 minutes. Nice and slow. Try to go a little bit faster the next day. Maybe make it 2 blocks the next day, or next week. If you work up to a place where you feel uncomfortable, back off a bit until you feel better about it. If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. Just relax and enjoy being outdoors!
Experts say that it takes 60 days, more or less, to form a habit. Performing the same action on a regular basis for 60 days will make it automatic and less a matter of will power and discipline. So instead of surveying your long-term fitness or nutritional goals with dismay, commit to making a few tiny changes, repeat for 60 days, and then consider adopting some more. With time, luck, and a little perseverance, you WILL successfully detox from December 2010, and be in a great position to reach your goals for 2011. Make a plan today to ring in 2012 with a great deal of style and no guilt at all!