Create a healthy lifestyle in 2012

January 10, 2012|Lynn Little

If you have started 2012 with an extra 10 pounds and the resolve to get your weight under control, you're not alone.  

The key to a healthy weight is not another diet.  The real solution is to make healthful eating and physical activity a way of life.  

Set realistic goals. Don't set yourself up for failure. Concentrate on changing habits, rather than on reducing pounds.

Follow a sensible eating plan. Don't succumb to the latest diet miracle plan. There is nothing magical about weight control. A good plan to start with is "My Plate" (

Get a move on. Don't live by food alone. The "My Plate" plan ( recommends that adults engage in at least two and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity each week to help maintain a healthy weight. The more you do, the greater the health benefits and the better you will feel.

Expect slow progress.  The safest and longest-lasting weight loss is achieved gradually, at the rate of 1 pound to 1 1/2 pounds per week. Gradual weight loss allows your body to adjust physically and mentally to the new you.  

Fight boredom with variety. Don't eat the same foods every day. Go for flavor with spices rather than fat.

There are no forbidden foods. Don't classify foods as good and bad. Deprivation leads to obsession, the "mother" of bingeing. Just remember, the key words are moderation and variety.  

Recognize emotional triggers. Don't ignore the stresses that push your buttons and make you want to find solace in food. Once you recognize and accept these triggers, find nonfood ways to sooth your emotions. A brisk walk or bubble bath can do wonders for frazzled nerves.  

Forget the fads. Diet fads come and go without offering a permanent solution. When you hear about the latest diet, always ask yourself: Can I eat this way for the rest of my life?  

Forgive yourself. Healthful eating does not have to be perfect eating. If you make a mistake or miss a few days eating right, get back on track  — ASAP.  

Congratulate yourself. Changing your eating habits can be tough. Just think how long you have had your current habits. Give yourself a pat on the back for any healthy changes you are able to make!  

 Celebrate!  Celebrate yourself, your family and friends, your work, your life.  Plan rewards for weight maintenance, as well as weight loss, but don't make food the reward.  

Stick with it. Making drastic changes can be a recipe for failure. Pick one change, like walking more and make it a habit. Research suggests that it takes about 21 days for a behavior to become habit. Small changes can make a big difference.

Everyone can adopt a healthy lifestyle. Let your friends and family know what you are doing and ask for their support. They can encourage healthy eating and regular physical activity and they might even join you.

For additional support check out Live Well at

Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Extension in Washington County.

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