By Lauren Denos: 12/30/2014 (Nutrition)

It is that time of year, again, where we go on a crazy diet in the hopes that this year will be the year that we will lose all of our weight and get into perfect shape. Sure, we did this last year and the year before that, and it did not stick. But, this year is different, we can feel it! Before you decide to go crazy with a completely new diet, let's have a little heart to heart about this.

First off, this is not a race; it is a journey.
Stop putting all that pressure on yourself. It took time to get to where you are today, and if where you are is extremely unhealthy it will take time to regain your health. Too often, people go on these crazy diets for New Year’s and they expect to see awesome results in a month or two. Guess what? Very few people completely change their health around in just a couple months. It takes time.

Focus on getting healthy, not just losing weight.
One big mistake people make is that they focus solely on losing weight and dieting. It is all on the look and not on the health. If you focus on achieving better health the weight will come off, but you will create a healthy realistic lifestyle instead of a quick fix that will be forgotten in a month. You want to create something you can do for life. If you are one of the many that wants to lose weight, focus on losing body fat not weight. There is a big difference between your weight and your body fat.

Balance your meals out.
People have a tendency to go on radical diets for their New Year’s resolution, but what you really need to do is clean it up and keep it realistic. Eat some lean protein, high-quality carbohydrates, and lots of vegetables. Vegetables are one great thing to focus on. The more vegetables you are getting in your meals, the leaner they tend to become. You do not have to have boring vegetables. Rather, you can use marinade packets or bake them with some balsamic vinegar. Better yet, roast them in the oven with a little bit of olive oil. Maybe you would prefer to make a vegetable stew to serve with your meals or salads. The options are endless. Just make sure you are getting your vegetables with your meals.

Make small changes.
Instead of reworking everything, make small changes to your nutrition plan. If you want to change your diet for New Year’s, but you don't normally eat vegetables or a balanced meal, then start by adding in some doses. For instance, try starting with a 1/2 cup of veggies and at least 2 ounces of quality protein to each meal and then keep building upon that. Many people have this idea that they have to drastically change everything and go on some sort of cabbage diet. When you go on a drastic diet it tends to not stick. This is because you go into a deprived mindset. If you love chips and give them up entirely, then you are not going to be happy with what you are doing. Start by being honest about the foods you do not want to be without, and then look at the things in your diet you would not mind getting rid of. If you love chocolate cake, then let yourself have a small piece every so often. This will keep you from hating this new program you are on.

Exchange foods.
Instead of focusing on getting rid of all the foods you enjoy, see what you can exchange out. If you love tortilla chips, then maybe you want to switch to baked tortilla chips or maybe plain air popped popcorn would satisfy your need for crunchy snacky foods. You may actually enjoy some crisp vegetables to munch on. If you have the desire for a snacky food, then find an alternative instead of giving up on snacking. If you love enchiladas, for example, then look at healthier recipes. It may be that you add zucchini, onions, fresh corn and cut down on the cheese. This way you are replacing your old enchiladas with something healthier, but you still get to eat your enchiladas. There are healthier versions of just about every food out there including desserts. Get creative and find better options that you can enjoy.

Make sure there is nothing else going on in your body. If you are actually serious about getting in better health and better shape, find a good doctor to work with. Many times there are other health conditions that are going on that can keep you from reaching the success you want. Insulin resistance, diabetes, hormone troubles, gut problems, the list goes on.

New Year’s is a tempting time to fix all of your bad habits. You will say, "This time I am going to stick with it." But, in reality, you are setting yourself up for failure if you decide to do a crash course diet. This year, if you truly want to get in better health and drop body fat, listen to what this article is telling you. Take the time to plan out what you are going to change and what foods you want to substitute. Planning all of this will make or break your new lifestyle. You can change your health and you can make it last, but make sure you treat it like a long term project and not something to be quickly fixed and then forgotten. With this mindset you will finally achieve your goal.



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