Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Tips for maintain and transitioning to a healthier lifestyle

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(Epsos/Flickr)

(Epsos/Flickr)

At some point in our lives, whether it’s self-motivated or prompted by doctors and loved ones, we make the promise to ourselves to be healthier. But there are times the promise can be seemingly impossible to keep. This becomes harder as we get older: real-life obligations like jobs, academia and taking care of family can get in the way. From someone who has been in that position and has stuck on the diligent path to eating right and exercising regularly, here are some tips for actually sticking to that intimidating resolution to improve your life for the better.

1. Create a schedule – Planning ahead is key. Know when your classes and club meetings are, and find windows you have to go to the gym or have a sit-down meal with protein and vegetables. With a scattered day, you will find yourself eating whatever you can whenever you can, which will make a measly bag of chips a poor excuse for lunch. Some choose to plan out every meal for the week (“meal-prepping”), which makes healthy choices easily accessible. The same goes for workouts: plan ahead of time. Create a routine that sticks.

2. Keep reminders – Put alerts on your phone, Post-Its on your fridge, follow fitness accounts on Instagram or other social mediums – anything that will help you remember to maintain your goals. Sometimes a tray of brownies or long walks/drives to the gym can make you lose sight of your goals, but achieving them is made much easier when there are constant reminders and motivators that you have created for yourself.

3. Think about what you are going to eat and buy before you go to the dining hall, grocery store or restaurant – And, more importantly, avoid grocery shopping when you are hungry. This will cause you to instinctually buy calorie-dense foods. You will end up with a shopping cart full of unprecedented Cheetos and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, which will eventually end up tantalizingly sitting in your kitchen. If you are like me and do not like wasting food, you will end up eating it, which may counteract your original plan to have a healthier meal or dessert that day. If you are on a meal plan, avoid going to the dining hall when you are starving. If you wait too long between meals, especially if you are active, you may end up over-eating when you get there and making too many trips to the dessert bar. The sooner you go, the less of an overpowering appetite you will have, thus you will make smarter choices.

4. Take others’ advice with a grain of salt – In a time when we are bombarded with information, we find the overwhelming amount of articles, blog posts, etc. about ideal healthy living. For example, this week The New York Times released an article about morning exercise being best for losing weight, which contradicted an older article on exercising being optimal in the afternoon. Some will recommend vegan diets, others the Paleo diet. The science is inexact, and many times seemingly authoritative voices online are actually less educated than they seem. The truth is there is no absolute right answer to optimizing health via fitness and diet except to do what works for you for your own goals. Everyone is different.

5. Make one change at a time – You have made an important resolution to change your entire lifestyle, which is great, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Take things slow. Switching immediately from a lifestyle of an unstructured diet and minimal activity to one of strict diet and constant, strenuous activity can make the transition unnecessarily hard to keep up. You do not have to begin your journey with extreme workouts like Insanity or Crossfit. Ease yourself in. Otherwise, the sudden change may be too difficult and thus discouraging.

6. Don’t be too hard on yourself – It is normal to break some of the promises for yourself when you start on your journey to change. To err is human. Just because you had a cookie after promising yourself not to eat sweets does not mean you should give up. It is okay to be flexible and allow yourself slips once in awhile. Live a little and enjoy the process. If you make unrealistic expectations for yourself when resolving to be healthier, which many often do when they decide to change such a big part of their lives, it becomes much more difficult maintaining them for long. Being healthy and active should be fun and should not get in the way of other parts of your life. Be flexible. Remember you are changing your life for the better and the amount of benefits that come with healthy living far outweighs the work that comes with initiating it.

Sarah Gamard can be reached at [email protected]

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