We're now into the second month of the new year. This is usually when people decide whether or not to keep up with their New Year's goals, and sadly it's far easier to fall back into old habits. If you're like me and you decided to commit to a healthier lifestyle, don't give up! It's definitely hard to get into the swing of things with diet and exercise changes, but over the the last few years I've picked up some tips that may just help you and me to stick to our goals for good! Of course, I'm not a doctor or health professional, so be sure to speak to a health professional if you will be making any drastic changes.

Diet:

1. Stop counting calories and start downsizing portions. I feel that counting calories is just too strict and stressful. Most of us are visual eaters, filling up our plates regardless of how hungry we actually are. This is especially the case with snacking (raise your hand if you've finished off a family-sized bag of potato chips in one sitting!). A simple fix is to just use smaller dishes. If this can't be done, then fill up your plate with veggies first so that you have significantly less room for everything else.  



2. Eat slower.
It sounds so simple, but it actually helps. The faster you eat, the longer it takes to feel full. I've read that a good average time to spend on a meal is 20-30 minutes. A lot of us tend to eat faster while watching television, so if this is the case for you try changing up the scenery. Sit at the table, turn on some music, or perhaps pick up a good book.

3. Don't forbid yourself from eating your favourite snack foods. Chances are you'll have a greater urge to binge if you do happen to come across them. I'd not recommend setting up a cheat day either as it can result in a whole day of binge eating. As long as the healthy foods outweigh the junk food then you are on the right track.



4. Opt for healthier snack foods.
I am partial to no-fuss items that can easily be eaten on the go, which often means fruits over veggies. But veggies are also important to include! If you tend to slack on veggies due to laziness, then choose a day once or twice a week to prepare pieces of your favourite veggies. This way you can store them for the week for easier access. If you prefer fruits over veggies for the taste, get creative and try your hand at green smoothies

5. Eat more often during the day. There are opposing views on this topic, but if you are hungry, eat. Not eating isn't going to help matters and could easily lead to eating far more during one sitting than desired. Just be sure to grab small portions of healthy snack foods and maintain the slower pace. 

Exercise:


1. Figure out where you are comfortable working out and stick to it.
Not everyone likes working out in the same place. I love the gym but I know that others feel intimidated by them. This is going to take a lot of trial and error, but it's worth it! Creating a bit of a routine with the exercise can also help you keep up with it, so figure out when you feel happiest working out and stick to that time as much as possible.



2. If working out solo intimidates you, bring some friends. 
I'm actually the opposite, but I can understand why people would feel uneasy working out alone. Going out with friends will give you more confidence to try out exercises that you'd not try out on your own and may even result in some friendly competition that will spur your motivation. After you've gotten accustomed to your environment and to the exercises, you may even feel comfortable working out alone! 

3. Don't push yourself. Results take time, so be patient! This is probably the biggest hurdle in weight loss. Throw out the scale, stop scrutinizing your body all the time. You won't see or feel changes right away when going on this path without professional guidance, so just remain consistent. 


4. Exercise is a great de-stressor, so use this to your advantage! Angry with your friends? Have a ton of papers due next week? Taking an hour off (or however long you can spare) to work out definitely helps to burn off some steam and gives you a fresher outlook on your situation. I find that exercise can leave me better prepared to tackle my school work as well, so use this opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. 

5. Change up your exercise routines. I know that I've so far advocated a lot of consistency but too much consistency can lead to the nasty "plateau effect." If working out with equipment, change up the program or intensity level on a regular basis and try rotating between machines. I like to keep the elliptical as my constant and switch between the rower and the stationary bike. If outdoors, try different terrains and different outdoor activities.

Overall, it's really going to be about pushing past all the distractions that derail you from the process. But just imagine how amazing you will feel after a few months of sticking to healthier changes! And eventually you will find yourself looking forward to these lifestyle changes you've made. It's all about patience, and if others can do it so can we!

Do you have any tips and tricks to maintaining a healthy diet and workout routine? Any success stories of your own you'd like to share? 

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