The 6 habits described in this issue of HEALTHbeat can help you move toward your weight-loss goal. Most target the common reasons people are overweight.
Don’t do all of these at once. Choose the one that seems the most feasible for you, and try to stick with it for a week or so. Once you’re doing it fairly consistently, add another one. Over time, you will realize that many of these habits can be interconnected.
1. Monitor and modify your screen time
People often complain that they don’t have enough time to exercise or to shop for and prepare healthy meals. But in fact, most people spend many hours watching TV or using their computer for fun. Keep track of your screen time for a week, then try scaling back the number of hours by a quarter or a third, and devote that time to your weight-loss efforts.
2. Eat breakfast — slowly and mindfully — every morning
Many people skip breakfast because they’re too rushed or they aren’t hungry. Try getting up 15 minutes earlier (which means going to bed earlier so you don’t sacrifice sleep time) to make time for breakfast and practice putting down your utensil or sipping water, coffee, or tea between bites.
3. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
Research shows inadequate sleep can lead to weight gain. Most people need about eight hours of sleep a night, but there’s a lot of variability — some people need more, some less. You can tell if you’re getting enough sleep if you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go, rather than groggy and grouchy.
4. Energize your exercise
Try a new form of exercise. Swim laps at a local pool; go dancing; play Frisbee. Finding a form of exercise that you really enjoy will make it easier to stick to an exercise routine — and incorporating new types of exercise can keep you challenged and less likely to become bored.
5. Start self-monitoring
Writing down what you eat and how much you exercise can help you gain awareness of your behaviors and track your changes toward specific goals. To keep tabs on your eating and exercise, you can go low-tech (a pocket-size notebook with a pen) or high-tech (a smartphone app). The idea is to pinpoint areas you need to improve.
6. Find a support network
Find at least one weight-loss buddy — your spouse, a friend, a relative, or a colleague — to help motivate you and hold you accountable. In-person groups, like those offered by Weight Watchers, can serve this purpose; so can online support groups
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