Nutrition Column – Motivating Yourself to Live Healthier

"I know if should eat better, but…" If you’ve found yourself saying this, you’re not alone. According the American Dietetic Association, 40 percent of Americans know they should eat a healthful diet, but for one reason or another have not been able to do so. Among the reasons given for not a eating right are not wanting to give up favorite foods, feeling confused about nutrition reports and studies published in the media, and believing that it will take too much time or be too hard.

To help people get out of the rut and get started down the road to a healthful lifestyle, the ADA offers the following tips.

– Make lifestyle changes with a friend or family member. A partner increases the enjoyment factor of physical activity and healthful eating.

– Enlist support. Family and friends can help you stay on track. Those who have the support of family members, particularly a spouse, are more likely to stick with the changes they make.

– Start slow.  Making small changes in your eating and exercising patterns will help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.

– Please yourself. Remember the most important reason to maintain a healthy lifestyle is you.

– Move it. A physically active lifestyle offers many rewards – from heart health to strong bones to stress relief, plus many other benefits.

– Expect to be successful. Reaching life’s goals is often a self-fulfilling prophecy. Positive self-talk and an enthusiastic approach to a healthful lifestyle set you up for success.

For those trying to lose weight:

– Set realistic goals. Start with your current weight, not where you want to be. Make short-term, attainable goals. For example, the challenge of losing five pounds at a time seems more reasonable than losing 25 pounds. Like any project, progressing little by little isn’t as overwhelming, and it’s healthier.

– Track your progress over time. Avoid the urge to step onto the scale every day. Once a week is enough. Since weight fluctuates from day to day due to fluid loss and retention, you may not get a true picture if you weigh yourself too frequently.

– Celebrate any success. Weight loss doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing venture. Even small changes can make a difference in your health and reduce your risk for disease.

– Enjoy how good your healthy weight feels. You may reward yourself with a new garment, a bouquet of flowers, a new music CD or a special outing. Still, there’s no greater motivation than knowing you’re in control and caring for your own well being.

Don’t wait any longer. Get started today!  

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by Pat Kendall, Ph.D., R.D., Food Science and Human Nutrition Specialist, Colorado State University, Cooperative Extension