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3 Tips for Creating Healthy Habits

Creating healthy habits is a great way to make small, incremental lifestyle improvements for better performance and to reduce your risk of developing chronic disease. If it truly is all about the journey, make it worth your while by keeping these tips in mind:

Set goals: What do you want to do? Accomplish? Goals should be clear, reasonable, specific, and, if possible, measured or quantified in some way. Instead of “I will eat healthier this year,” try “I will eat 3 servings of vegetables every day. Write your goal down and keep it visible. Read it and re-read it regularly. Use power statements, “I will” instead of “I’ll try.” How will you achieve this goal? What are the steps? If your goal is weight loss, what tools, resources, activities and habits that help you get there?

Stay positive and reward yourself along the way: Celebrate successes and don’t underestimate the importance of recognizing your progress. If your goal is to complete a 5K run, reward yourself every time you complete a practice race, shed time on your miles, etc. Instead of saying “I can’t” say “I can” and “I will.” Complaining won’t get the job done and if it is too easy, was it really a worthy goal in the first place?

Mark your calendar: In addition to writing down your health goals, use an online, old-fashioned, calendar, day timer, journal, etc. Use it to schedule your workouts, shopping trips, to make notes. Noting the number of veggie servings you eat daily will enable you to track weekly average servings. Stay on top of your progress. Make time for your goals and specify the steps you’ll need to complete to reach them.

Tips to avoid late-night snacking

An important weight management tip is to eat when you we feel true, physiological hunger. Eating when not truly hungry can lead to excess calories and weight gain. Excessive snacking before bedtime and/or late at night, in particular, can become a bad habit. It can be a ‘go to’ behavior to distract us when we are experiencing uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings, such as frustration, anger, fear and boredom. Even excess stress and exhaustion can play a role in night-time eating. Here are some tips to limit mindless eating at night:

Eat well during the day: Aim to consume regular, well balanced meals with a wide variety of foods. Take time to plan your meals and snacks. Listen to your body and stay fueled throughout the day, according to your hunger levels.

Include fiber-rich foods: Few Americans eat enough of fiber-rich foods. Fiber, found in plant foods, promotes digestive and heart health and keeps you feeling fuller longer. Whole grains, fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds and legumes are fiber-rich. The more fiber you eat, the more important it is to drink plenty of water.

Don’t skimp on protein and overdo processed carbs: Noshing on processed carbs all day, such as crackers, white bread, granola bars, sugary cereals, sweets, pastries, and chips, for example, doesn’t provide your body with what it needs for optimum performance. Stick with healthier carb choices, such as fruit, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Pair these foods with a source of protein, such as a hard-boiled egg, Greek yogurt, nut butter, cottage cheese, hummus, tuna, etc.

Think twice before taking a bite: what are you really feeling? Is it true hunger or are you anxious, bored, frustrated or tired? What other activities and behaviors would satisfy you? Consider calling a friend to chat, playing a game, going for a walk, taking a relaxing shower or bath, reading, etc.

Go to bed earlier: if you are eating out of boredom or as a compliment to late-night television, consider an earlier bedtime. Sleep is important for weight control. Inadequate sleep can interfere with efficient carbohydrate metabolism, increase fat storage and hunger.

If you are truly hungry, eat a healthy balanced snack, such as yogurt with fruit, oatmeal with raisins and nuts, 1/2 small turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread or a slice of whole wheat toast spread with peanut butter or low-fat ricotta cheese and a dab of honey or jam. Keep your portions small and avoid distractions while eating.

Tips to prevent weight gain while working from hom...

Let’s face it, less activity and more food usually leads to weight gain. Thousands of Americans are working from home temporarily during the 2020 pandemic. Many of us are enjoying sit-down dinners together and have more quality time to spend with family. Many gyms remain closed which is bad news for those that depend on them for providing exercise options. Three tips to avoid weight gain while working from home:

  • Keep stepping: Don’t ditch your step count. You may not be able to log 10,000 steps per day but don’t give up on accruing and setting goals for daily steps. Adjust your goal to make it more realistic. Accrue steps inside your home, outside and around the neighborhood. Consider taking 10 minute ‘walking breaks’ throughout the workday. Check out fitness apps that make working out from home a solid option.
  • Have kitchen hours: If you were working in the office, would you frequent the cafeteria throughout the day? Probably not. Wandering in the kitchen out of boredom leads to mindless snacking. Have set mealtimes and limit trips to the kitchen between meals (exception: water). If you like snacking, plan and prepare low-calorie snacks for long stretches between meals.
  • Weekly weigh-ins: Gaining weight in small increments creeps up on you and, if you aren’t paying attention, pounds can add up quickly. Most of us are working from home in comfortable clothes, not form fitting work clothes. Weighing yourself weekly can keep you honest. Body weight fluctuates so have a ‘weight window.’ For example, if you feel your best at 150 lbs aim to keep that window between 150 and 154 lbs. If it hits 153 lbs, it’s time to practice portion control and increase activity.