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Staying On Track

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

How do you stay on track? I don’t have to tell you how difficult it is to follow your eating plan and stay on target with your goals. I’m probably one of the most regimented people out here and it’s hard for me too. But I have a few tips and tricks that I like to use, and you may like some of them too. They actually work for me.

• Pay attention to and keep track of everything you’re eating. The Sparkpeople food tracker is great for this, but you can use another method if you choose. I like Sparkpeople’s because you can tailor it to your own eating and set your goals for calories, protein, carbs, fiber, etc., and it tells you how you’re doing throughout the day. When you keep track of it, you realize how easy it is to go overboard. If you’re not paying attention, you can quickly rack up hundreds of empty calories. So, track everything, even a 5 calorie stick of gum.

• The best way is to plan all of your meals. I know, I know. You’re thinking how that’s easier said than done, right? Well speaking from experience, I agree that it definitely can be easier said than done. But I also know that the reason most things are easier said than done is because we don’t do them often enough. The more we do things, the better we get at doing them -- the easier they become. People sometimes laugh at me because I’m always thinking about or talking about food. That’s because I like to plan out all my meals and snacks ahead of time. On most days, when I first get up in the morning, I already know what I’ll be eating for the rest of the day, including my between meal snacks. If I don’t plan it, I’ll grab the wrong things in a mindless, rote sort of way.

• Next, keep healthy snacks with you. Raisins, nuts, or grapes are good snacks. One of my favorite snacks is blueberries. One snack that I’ve recently gotten into lately is sun dried tomatoes. I like to get them sliced or julienne cut, and just one cup is filled with fiber, protein, iron, niacin, vitamin K and loads of antioxidants. How about that: snacks that are good and good for you. Can’t beat that.

• Also, portion out your foods, particularly snacks. I portion out a serving size of various things and keep them in baggies in the fridge or the pantry. And here’s another tip: you don’t have to have a full serving in order to be fulfilled. One of my favorite crackers list a serving size as 15 crackers. I usually have half that amount and I’m satisfied. The full serving is 150 calories. By having only half a serving, I free up 75 calories. That may not sound like much, but believe me, calories add up.

• If you really need to visit a vending machine, be careful at what you choose. Nowadays, many vending machines have a section dedicated to healthier items (i.e., the top row, the left side, row B, etc.). Other times, healthier items are dispersed throughout. Look out for those items, and be sure to portion them out.

• Don’t eat as soon as you feel hungry. You won’t pass out from starvation if you hold off for a half hour or so. Drink a cup of water or green tea, do some stretching, or go for a walk. If you eat as soon as you feel hungry, chances are you’ll eat all the wrong things.

• Last but not least, don’t allow friends and family members to derail your progress. If you hadn't had your loved ones be discouraging or uninspiring, consider yourself fortunate. Many people trying to embark on a healthy life have to face the challenge of an unsupportive inner circle on a daily basis. If those in your inner circle are not being supportive, shame on them. When they try to impede your progress and say things to hinder you, try to let just let it go like water off of a duck's back. It's up to YOU to follow your plan.

Give these things a try. If they don’t work for you develop your own. The important thing is to find ways to help you succeed and keep achieving your goals. Don’t give up just because you didn’t make it today. So what if you ate three donuts this morning. That doesn’t mean you should just say "never mind" and eat whatever you see the rest of the day. It’s never too late to begin again. It just requires a little effort.

Stealing the Nike slogan, “Just Do It.”
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