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Getting back into shape

Have you kept your New Year's resolution to lose weight and eat healthily? Are you ready to don that bikini after May 24? Can you fit into your summer clothes?

Many people use the holiday period to overindulge and expand their waistlines. And while it doesn't need to be this way, unfortunately it often is.

A new year arrives and pledges are made to take control, lose weight, drink less, move more and become healthier. Although it sounds simple, it can often become a challenge. Here are suggestions to help you succeed with your plans.

Making lasting changes is rarely easy and takes time, effort, commitment, focus and determination. If you fall off track or become discouraged with slow progress, re-evaluate your plans.

The key to remaining motivated is to focus on your goals. Are they sensible, achievable and challenging? If you aim to lose 10 pounds each week, that's an unrealistic goal that will lead to failure. If you aim to lose only one pound a month, you may lose interest. A rational aim would be to lose one to two pounds a week, while making sure your diet is healthy and balanced.

The key to success is in the planning.

What do you like to eat? Where do you eat? Do you take your lunch to work or do you buy food from supermarkets and restaurants? What do you drink? What about snacks? What changes are you prepared to make?

How should we eat?

Most people eat three meals each day plus one or two low calorie snacks. A healthy, balanced meal can fit on a 10-inch plate and consists of three main food groups: protein, starches, and fruits, vegetables or salads. Aim to have one protein, one starch, and two fruits, vegetables or salad at each meal.

Keep the fat content low so choose lean, unprocessed meats, skinless poultry, fish, beans, eggs, tofu or nuts. Use cooking methods requiring little or no fats and avoid fried foods. Avoid adding extra fats like butter, cheese and cream to foods.

Choose wholegrain starches where possible like brown rice, whole wheat breads, pastas, pitas, pizza and wraps. Leave the skin on potatoes. Sweet potatoes, squash and corn are starches too. Make sure you choose only one starch per meal.

Fruits, vegetables and salads are a vital component of our diets. Choose a variety of colours for the best mix of vitamins. We should aim to have two servings with each meal. Fresh or frozen are the best choices in Bermuda. Shop locally, whenever possible, for the freshest produce.

Good snack choices include fresh fruits, low-fat yoghurts, a small handful of nuts or dried fruits, certain cereal bars (check labels), fruit cups in juice, an eight-ounce glass of skimmed milk or plain popcorn.

Ensure your foods are bursting with flavour without using fats, salts or sugars. Try adding herbs and spices, like cayenne pepper, garlic, onions, rosemary, thyme, lemon or lime juices, basil, ginger, or paprika. There is no excuse for your meals to be bland and boring!

Exchange high calorie or fatty foods for healthier yet tasty alternatives:

Swap chicken wings for a chicken drumstick without skin

Swap French fries for baked potato wedges

Swap cheeseburgers for extra-lean hamburgers with low-fat Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato

Swap Caesar salad with dressing for salad with a light dressing

Swap fried croutons for baked croutons

Swap potato salad made with mayonnaise for potato salad made with low fat Greek yoghurt

Swap mayonnaise for mustard or low-fat mayonnaise

Swap sugary drinks for water, diet soda or Crystal Light

When should we eat?

Eat only when you are hungry. Always sit down to eat meals at a table, if possible and turn off the TV. Don't eat simply because you are bored find something else to do.

Monitor your progress. Keep a food diary for a week or two. Write down what you eat and drink, including when, where and why.

Were you peckish, really hungry, bored, upset or angry? Keep the food diary as long as you find it helpful. You can always keep track for a few days here and there to help you stay focused and reflect upon your eating habits.

If things haven't gone as planned, don't beat yourself up about it. Stop, re-evaluate, refocus and get going again. Remember, doing more of what doesn't work won't make it any better.

Choose a variety of colours for the best mix of vitamins when eating fruits and vegetables.

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Published February 23, 2012 at 10:15 am (Updated February 23, 2012 at 10:14 am)

Getting back into shape

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