Monday, June 23, 2008

30 Ways to Make Healthy Living Second Nature

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By Nancy Rones

While it can take only one misstep to veer off track, all it takes is one baby step to get back on course. Gradually fit these strategies from our Real-Life Healthy Life experts into your life, and expect small daily progress that leads to impressive results over time.

1) Make a list of all the reasons you want to get healthy ("I want to swim with my kids," "I want to fit into my size-8 pants"). Then, first thing every morning read over that list to bring focus and motivation to your day.

2) Never eat straight out of a container. This way you are forced to acknowledge your portions.

3) Start your meals with a salad or cream-free vegetable soup. This high-volume, low-calorie appetizer fills you with nutrients, leaving less room for higher-fat entrées.

4) Do squats while you're heating something in the microwave. Moving whenever you can keeps you energized and in a fit frame of mind.

5) Look at your schedule for the upcoming week, and save low-fat frozen dinners or healthy takeout for your busiest nights.

6) When you go into the kitchen for a snack, stop and rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 is famished; 5 is full). Write the number on a wipe-off board and if it's 3 or higher, take a moment to ask yourself, ‘Why am I in here?'

7) Always have a healthy "turn-to food" at the ready, for when you absolutely must munch on something this instant. Try baby carrots, celery sticks, or frozen red grapes.

8) Not in the mood to exercise? Tell yourself you'll work out for only 15 minutes. Chances are, feel-good endorphins will kick in and you'll keep going.

9) After each alcoholic or sweetened beverage, drink one glass of water. You'll have less room for another caloric drink.

10) Ditch oversized workout wear that passes for pajamas. You'll work harder and feel more confident in clothes that look good and support you in the right places.

11) Healthy-living motivation exercise: Imagine sitting in the waiting room of your doctor's office-the anxiety, the boredom, the germs. Then ask yourself whether you'd rather spend more time there when you're older or out in your garden.

12) At the stove, taste what you're cooking only once for level of seasoning and doneness. The calories in those mindless bites count too.

13) Borrow or buy a healthy cookbook or log on to for new meal ideas.

14) When a snack is calling you, look at the calories and figure out how long it would take to work off that treat. Is it worth it? Click on to calculate calories burned during various activities.

15) Eat before you're famished. Starving equals binging later on. Snack on apple slices, rice cakes, a stick of string cheese, or low-fat yogurt between planned meals.

16) There's no rule that says you must eat or drink everything guests bring as a hostess gift. Send guests home with goodie bags, then toss remaining sweets to avoid temptation.

17) Plan dinner at least one night in advance. If you wait until 5 pm on the day of, you'll end up eating a couple waffles and a pack of Ring-Dings for dinner.

18) Find the following three people for support: a partner in crime (a person who has similar goals), a role model, and a fan (someone who cheers you on no matter what).

19) Avoid alcohol whenever possible. Research shows drinking it before or during a meal can up calorie consumption by 40 percent because it reduces your impulse control (i.e., You see an appetizer tray and say, "I don't give a damn"). If you must have that glass of vino, save it for the last course.

20) For one week, measure out single portions of everything you eat on a scale. You'll train your eye to recognize proper serving sizes. Go to and search for "portion control for weight loss" to view a slideshow of correct portions.

21) Choose bold cheese varieties, such as Parmesan and blue cheese, that offer a wallop of flavor in small quantities. You'll get more taste, fewer calories.

22) At a buffet, survey the whole table first, then take reasonable portions of the two or three foods that you must try. Fill the rest of your plate with fruits and veggies, then make a beeline for the table that's farthest from the food.

23) Wear a pedometer, and aim for 10,000 steps a day. Try to outdo yourself every week!

24) Don't make your exercise and healthy eating goals so ambitious they're impossible to achieve. Think in 10 percent increments: If you did 30 minutes on the treadmill today, add another 3 minutes tomorrow.

25) Eat slowly and savor your meals by tuning out any distractions to prevent mindless overeating. Put down the magazine, shut off the TV, and put your cell phone on vibrate.

26) In the supermarket, spring for treats packaged in single-serving bags. They may cost a little more, but the built-in impulse control makes them worth it. (And how much would you pay to be thin?)

27) No time to exercise? If you're up on Hollywood gossip or the latest twist in your favorite soap, there's room in your schedule. Look at your calendar, find at least two free windows of time each week, and schedule workouts in pen.

28) Chew gum while you're clearing off the table. You'll be much less likely to sneak nibbles off your kids' plates.

29) Don't blame your kids for all the junk food in your house. Get rid of it!

30) Surround yourself with bottled water-in your car, next to your computer, in your pocketbook. Staying hydrated staves off false hunger pangs.

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