It’s the new year, you know what that means?! Time to start that new diet and hit the gym. It’s going to be different this time, right? Not like last year when you swore off sugar for a few weeks and ended up mowing through a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies in a moment of weakness. Seriously, who picked January to be cookie selling month?
According to data by Marketplace Enterprises, Americans spend over 68 billion dollars annually trying to lose weight.
But did you know that restrictive eating is one of the major predictors of future weight gain?
That’s one great reason to ditch the diet! Healthy eating habits are much more likely to stick when they fit into your lifestyle naturally and the focus is on what you can eat, not on what you can’t. Plus, improving your health has a direct impact on things like PFT scores, which ultimately benefits promotion and your overall career.
Here are five health strategies for habits that stick.
Clean up the kitchen
This is the perfect time to give the refrigerator a deep clean, tossing expired condiments and making room for the good stuff. Shop the perimeter of the Commissary and fill up on fruits and vegetables, lean meats, eggs, whole grains, and calcium sources. Browse these grown-up lunch options for inspiration beyond P.B. & J. Speaking of kid food, if you can’t stay out of the Goldfish crackers, you wouldn’t be the first. Consider air-popped popcorn your whole grain, high-fiber alternative.
Pro Tip: If you can’t stop at just one cookie, savor a square of dark chocolate after dinner for a portion-controlled satisfying treat.
The fruit & vegetable factor
Did you know it’s recommended for adults to eat five-to-nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day? That may sound daunting, but challenge yourself to work toward this goal and watch less healthy options naturally crowded off of your plate.
Plan & prep
Just saying you’re going to eat better isn’t enough to get you there. Setting aside an hour at the beginning of the week to decide on a meal plan, food budget, and grocery list is the key to actually making this work. Come Wednesday, you might glance in the fridge, but with a toddler hanging on your leg, you’re looking at pizza delivery to the rescue. Again. When you have planned, shopped, and stocked your kitchen in advance, you’ll know exactly what’s for dinner each night.
Pro Tip: Keep garlic, lemon, and spices on hand to add big flavor without extra calories.
Move your body
During your weekly planning sesh, decide when and where you’ll be working out. Regular fitness is a key component to lifelong health, so utilize the gym childcare, stream an exercise video, or grab someone from your unit to do lunch PT with. Keep it interesting by trying a barre class, yoga, or cardio kickboxing. When you look forward to working up a sweat, you’re less likely to cancel on yourself.
Pro Tip: Throw on workout clothes first thing in the morning. Now you’re one step closer to actually exercising!
Your secret weapon: Enlist a professional
Military members and their families have access to one-on-one nutrition counseling with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Military Treatment Facilities (MTF). Take advantage of this amazing benefit which could cost you thousands of dollars outside the gate. Check with your primary care provider for a referral and receive personalized nutrition plans to help meet your specific needs.
Pro Tip: A nutrition expert to help figure this all out? Yes, please!
The slow and steady route might not be as popular as quick fix diets, but stay confident in these smart strategies. When life gets busy- and it will- you’ll have established the necessary routines to keep healthy habits going strong through any obstacle (we’re looking at you, deployment).Read comments