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Food for Thought: Stepping in the right direction for successful 2010 goals

Sharla Paino | Interrobang | Lifestyles | January 11th, 2010

The plentiful feasts of Christmas have come and gone and it's a brand new year to start eating clean and healthy again. For some people, New Years Day begins a train of overwhelming thoughts for self improvement strategies and desirable goals to reach before this year comes to an end. A popular theme for these New Years resolutions is physical health and body image. The impending summer that comes in five months or so carries a lot of pressure to look fit and buff on the beach, if only for the two or three months it actually lasts. For some, the pressure is even more immediate as spring break trips to tropical destinations draw closer and closer and time is running out to shed those holiday pounds.

The wrong approach to attaining these goals would be to attempt some of the popular fad diets, including the cabbage soup diet, the master cleanse or cutting out carbs/fat. These diets may help to shave off an inch or two in the short term, but as soon as your body is re-introduced to regular foods again the weight will jump back on. These diets can also be dangerous to the health and well-being of other bodily functions as you are cutting out vital nutrients while watching your fat intake.

As the diets are brought forth so are the gym goers. I assume this time of year is one of the most successful for gym membership sales at any gym you can think of. The average person with meaningful intentions to live a more active lifestyle will stay true to their work out routine for about six weeks or so before the obstacles of a busy life and the comforts of a lazy day begin to take priority over a trip to the gym. Although some determined people may stick to the scheduled gym visits throughout the year, most beginners will get discouraged and stop going. When they do, the excess calories and protein they've been consuming to compensate for the added activity in their day may catch up to them.

The trick to feeling healthy and good about your body is not in fad diets or volatile gym binges, but in paying attention to when you eat and what you do throughout your day. The first step is to set a goal weight- this can be as little as two pounds less but should be no more than 10 pounds below your current body weight to begin. Tell yourself that you will try for about one or two pounds loss per week, while toning the muscle you have. Now, for the fun part. Start increasing activity level slowly, so it fits in your daily schedule. Walk somewhere instead of driving, enroll in dancing classes or yoga, set aside time to enjoy some winter activities. If you are interested in taking up some dance, martial arts or yoga classes and don't know where to find them, I suggest visiting where you can browse through and register for various classes and groups in the city. When you amalgamate these activities into your life slowly, you may find that they will have a more durable presence in your weekly routine.

While you gradually introduce more exercise into your life, you can also make sure you are eating well to compliment the energy. I don't suggest cutting any food groups out of your life, but definitely check out the Canada's Food Guide and figure out how much of each group you should be eating per day. Canada's Food Guide can be found online at the Heath Canada website:

For a health conscious approach to your diet, you should also try to eat less processed foods and think carefully about each meal before you eat it. Does you body really want that cheeseburger, or is it your taste buds that crave it? This may not deter you from every indulgence, but it is a healthy way to think about what you put into your body. With this way of thinking rather than strict rules cutting out the foods you crave, you are more likely to eat healthy and not be tempted to break any food laws you've made for yourself.

Remember, slow and steady wins the race, and the attainable goal when reached is far more satisfying than failing to meet the ultimate goal.
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