It's January...that wonderfully hopeful time of year when we resolve to do better. We vow to get in shape, to lose weight, and to ditch all the other bad habits we have been accumulating for decades. If you're like many folks, you may be looking at the exact same list of resolutions that you had last year.
There are some key differences between the people who succeed with their New Year's resolutions and those who fail, says Kim Pullman, registered dietitian and the chairperson of the Eat Right Montana Coalition. Just like in the race between the tortoise and the hare, people who succeed over the long term are more likely to take small steps and make steady progress. Extreme diet and exercise makeovers may seem like great ideas, but they rarely last long enough.
The effectiveness of taking small steps toward healthier lifestyles has been proven in scientific studies and is endorsed by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Lots of good ideas for taking those small steps are available on the HHS websites, for adults www.smallstep.gov/, and for kids at http://smallstep.gov/kids/flash/index.ht....
People are usually more successful with lifestyle changes when they track their progress and when they have support from family, friends, and coworkers.
A local program which incorporates those proven success techniques is the Walk Kansas program which will start March 7. It's an eight-week program where teams of six -- family, friends, or coworkers --record their physical activity and report it each week. Weekly reporting keeps participants accountable to themselves and their team. Support and encouragement are provided by team mates, the team captain, and weekly newsletters provided by the Extension office. Registration packets will be available in the Extension office in early February.
Here are some ideas on getting a healthy start for a new decade in 2010:
* Resolve to be realistic. Ignore the ads for drastic diet programs, expensive exercise machines, and miraculous weight loss pills. Don't fall for the magazine headlines which propose to help you lose several pounds a week. Instead, choose one or two small changes that you can stick with for the rest of your life. These can be as simple as eating breakfast every day, taking a 15-minute walk at lunch, or spending time on the treadmill before you sit down to read the newspaper.
* Resolve to put fun into fitness. One of the top reasons that people stop exercising is that they don't enjoy it. Take some fun small steps toward fitness with a dance DVD or a group class. Use the buddy system for your 2010 fitness routine. It's more fun to do things with the support of a friend.
* Resolve to put taste into nutrition. A delicious, nutrient-rich eating style is just what dietitians suggest. The best way to fill nutrient gaps is to eat more of the tasty foods that give you plenty of nutrition for your calories, like whole grains, veggies, fruit, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins. Experiment with herbs and spices to add plenty of flavor to your nutritious choices. Take a small step toward more nutritious dairy foods by switching from whole to 2 percent milk, or from 2 percent to 1 percent, and finally to skim milk. Try some of the reduced fat cheeses, cream cheese, cottage cheese and sour cream which are available.
* Follow MyPyramid recommendations for the amounts or foods you eat from each of the food groups. Following those guidelines, a healthful plate would be almost half filled with fruits and veggies, about one-third with grains (pasta, cereal, rice, etc.). The remaining portion would be meat or beans, with just a very small amount of those extra calories, like desserts and sweets.
If you have questions about food, nutrition, wellness, or other consumer issues, don't hesitate to contact me at the Extension office on the first floor of the courthouse, call (620) 223-3720 or email email@example.com.
Wishing you a happy and healthy year ahead!