2:38 PM EST, January 18, 2012
Where do you start?
You see yourself in the mirror and know you should do something about how you look and feel. But, how to begin?
"People need to work on the easy things first," says Susan Bowerman, assistant director of University of California at Los Angeles' Center for Human Nutrition.
With so many of us launching diet and exercise plans for the new year — and often giving up within a matter of weeks (if not days) — I asked Bowerman for some strategies to get started. Strategies, that is, that aren't too hard to stick with.
"People always get overly ambitious at the first part of the year," she said, when they really should begin with "things that are doable that they can absolutely sustain."
Bowerman's doable dietary suggestions include:
Eat a piece of fruit instead of cakes or cookies for dessert.
Include one dairy serving per day (if milk, switch from whole milk to 2 percent).
Eat airy, watery foods that will fill you up and have fewer calories (vegetables, not Cheetos). "Think of your sandwich as a salad between two pieces of bread."
Switch from high-calorie drinks (sugary soda, fruit juices) to water, even at just one meal a day.
Substitute 100 percent whole grain for white bread.
For more tips and encouragement, Bowerman's blog is a readable, supportive guide: discovergoodnutrition.com.
It's not just food she's concerned with, and she offers some sustainable tips on exercise too.
"Sometimes the idea of 30 minutes a day of exercise is so daunting to people. Break it up. There's evidence if you do three 10-minute stints it's just as good.
"Also, just move around a little more. Talking on the phone like I'm talking to you, I'm pacing around the room.
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