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Healthy Living: To lose weight, mind your p’s and q’s
New Year’s resolutions are often made with good intentions, but they can be difficult to maintain. Instead of making vague promises this year, set tangible goals and work toward the realistic lifestyle changes. TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, offers tips from member Loisann Dulaney of Texas to help individuals reach their weight-loss goals and lead healthier lives.
•Plan: Create a plan for the New Year. Will you eat fewer sweets or consume more whole grains? It’s important to understand, in advance, how you will reach your healthy goals.
•Pyramid/Plate: The USDA’s My Plate, which has replaced the Food Guide Pyramid, offers healthy eating and portion size guidelines. Also, TOPS’ Food Exchange System, similar to the one developed by the American Diabetes Association, encourages individuals to use variety and flexibility in meal planning to achieve balanced nutrition. There are no “good” or “bad” foods, according to the Exchange System. All food is acceptable in moderation.
•Portions: It’s essential to be aware of portion sizes. A cup of food is approximately the size of a cupped hand, a half-cup is about the size of a fist, and a serving of meat is roughly the size of a deck of cards.
•Pitcher: Put a pitcher of water in the refrigerator and drink about eight glasses each day. The pitcher will indicate the amount of water you have already consumed.
•Push and Pass: Try to leave a small amount of food on your plate as you “push away” from the table at the end of a meal. Stand up, put the food in the trash, and leave the table. Pass on potato chips, pastries, pies, pound cake, and more. Choose healthier snack foods, like pretzels, unsalted peanuts, popcorn, and diet juice popsicles.
•Personal trainer: Personal trainers help people tailor their exercises to their ability and the proper intensity level. But a trainer or special equipment is not required. Just walk and get moving.
•Parks: Walk or jog in a local park. If the weather conditions are poor, go to the mall or a large store to burn off some calories. Visit the gym or take fitness classes.
•Partners: Having a fitness partner can help you stay on track. Whether they help you make healthy meal choices or join you during a workout, they are the people who can offer support. Consider attending a local TOPS chapter meeting in your area, where support abounds. Find chapter meetings at www.tops.org.
•Project: Start a project or take up a hobby that keeps you away from the kitchen. Choose a hobby that will get you moving -- nature hikes, gardening, dance classes, bike riding, golfing, camping, and more.
•Public: Check out restaurants’ menus online, so you can find a location with healthy options. If you’re mulling over an appetizer, consider a salad with low-fat dressing or oil and vinegar rather than mozzarella sticks or deep-fried foods. Choose the fruit and vegetable option at a fast-food restaurant instead of fries. Practice eating smaller portions, and bring half the meal home.
•Pajamas: It’s important to get about 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Go to bed at a reasonable time for more energy the next day.
•Practice: As with anything -- learning to drive, playing an instrument, and more -- practice is necessary. Start slowly and practice healthy habits each day to make lasting changes.
•Quick: There is no quick fix when it comes to weight loss. Work slowly and make lifestyle changes as you go along.
•Quiz: Quiz yourself frequently. Am I exercising on a regular basis? Do I keep a food journal to track what I am eating? Do I encourage others as they try to make healthier lifestyle choices? This will keep you accountable and mindful of the choices you make.
•Quit: Quit knocking yourself down. There are times when you may overindulge, but it shouldn’t be discouraging. Stay motivated and continue with your weight-loss plan.
•Quiet: Make time for some peace and quiet in a busy schedule. It’s important to spend a few minutes alone periodically. This will give you time to recharge. Take a quick nap, listen to music, or simply sneak off to a quiet room in the house to clear your mind.
TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization of its kind. To find a local chapter, view www.tops.org or call 1-800-932-8677.
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