(1) You need cardio and weight training. Many people start with a form of cardio when they begin an exercise program for the first time. Walking, swimming, and taking an aerobics class are all good examples of easy ways to break into the world of exercise. Unfortunately, after a while your body will stop responding to cardio alone and you’ll hit a plateau in your journey towards being healthy. The key here is to break up your cardio workouts with weight training sessions. You don’t have to pump massive iron, but you do have to work on different muscle groups and push them as much as you can. This will build muscles (whereas cardio mainly burns fat or only works select muscle groups) and the more muscles you have, the more calories you burn at any give time. This will get you over that plateau and keep you on that path to a healthier you.
(2) Eat your food slowly. It’s a simple trick, but it’s easy to forget. If you eat quickly or mindlessly (while watching TV for example), you’re more likely to overeat because you aren’t paying attention. You’re also more likely to pay less attention to the food you’re preparing, which means you may be lacking fruits, vegetables, or even protein. Finally, you’ll also be more likely to feel unsatisfied after eating, which leads to snacking, grazing, and more mindless eating. Stop the cycle by slowing down and paying attention to your food!
(3) Write down your food and activity. The act of writing down food choices and activity levels makes you own up to your successes and challenges. It can be easy to ignore the fact that you sat around all day and ate carbohydrates until you have to write that down in your notebook. Having a food and activity journal also makes it easier to see mistakes that led to a sugar crash or a small weight gain. If you’re not a pen and paper type, you can keep a journal online (Google Documents are private and free) or make a memo to your self on your cell phone.
(4) Don’t ignore the big picture. If there are underlying issues that make you overeat and keep you from the gym, no dieting article can help you until you face them. Try to figure out how you feel when you overeat or what your real problems with exercise are. Being honest with yourself can help you make personal changes that will lead to a healthier lifestyle. If necessary, seek outside help with those changes. You should never feel bad about trying to be healthier!
(5) Get support wherever you can. Support is key when making lifestyle changes. If you can’t find it at home, try to get support from friends or at your workplace. You can also join a weight loss support group, such as Weight Watchers, or an exercise group that meets to walk or do aerobics. There are also many online groups and forums to lend support 24 hours a day.