Making the commitment to exercise and eat a healthy diet sounds simple until you discover just how many ways there are to do it. With dozens and dozens of diet plans and just as many fitness approaches, how do you know what’s really best? Making the journey to a healthier, stronger you doesn’t have to feel like a guessing game. With a few smart tips to get you on track, you can master the exercise and diet plan that’s right for you. It is also very clear that “one diet does not fit all” and that personalized nutrition is becoming a reality. The NIH recently stated that “every diet plan should incorporate genetics.”
• Track your calories. Losing weight boils down to one clear fact: You must burn more calories than you take in. Keeping track of how many calories you consume and making portion sizes of high-calorie foods smaller allows you to eat what you enjoy in moderation and stay on track.
• Find the right motivation. Reasons for adopting healthy diet and exercise habits are different for everyone. Before you begin, identify your personal motivating factors—are you facing health issues you want to control? Maybe you just want to look better or be able to play with your children or grand children. No matter the reason, stay focused no matter how tough the journey is. Reach out to others when you are struggling and remember that if you have an unsuccessful day, you can refocus tomorrow.
• Follow a customized plan using genetics. Have you ever noticed that some people have dramatic results on a particular diet or exercise routine and others don’t? Even though it may seem like luck, there may be more to it. Identifying your body’s unique underlying metabolic processes, nutritional needs and even food reactions can help you identify the right way to eat and work out based on you. A simple saliva sample can provide valuable information about your genetics and save you valuable time and effort on your journey to better health.
• Be patient with your progress. A 2013 survey of dieters in the UK showed that two out of five give up their healthy habits in just a week. One out of five last a month and just 20% make it three months. Researchers know that motivation and depriving yourself are big factors in success—that’s why it’s okay to know that every day may not be as successful as you would like it to be. If you are committed to the journey, try working with professionals like a dietitian or health coach to find areas where you struggle and develop ways to work around them.
• Set yourself up for success. It’s pretty hard to eat right and stay active when your schedule is jam-packed and your fridge is full of unhealthy food choices. Before you start making healthy changes, do some planning first. Make a list of foods you can eat, do your grocery shopping and remove any tempting foods from your cabinets. Identify time to exercise—even if it’s just ten minute chunks throughout your day, or let go of an activity so you can work out without feeling rushed.
The old saying “Work smarter, not harder” can apply to many areas of life—even your diet and exercise plan. Get to know your body’s unique needs, find support and forgive yourself for days when things just don’t go as planned. Start moving toward a healthier you, one day at a time.