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Saturday, Apr 19, 2014
Health & Fitness

Get an early start on healthy resolutions


Every year, retailers push us into the holiday season. Christmas in July is no longer an absurd concept. While many people don’t appreciate premature holiday marketing, it forces us to look ahead — which can be a good thing, especially when it comes to New Year’s resolutions.

This year in late fall, many of my clients began discussing the lifestyle changes they wanted to make in 2014. I was thrilled. No matter the date, it’s always a good time for self-improvement!

In the spirit of anticipating a fresh start, I thought I’d devote this column to tips you can apply right now to reap the benefits of healthful resolutions long before Baby New Year comes to town.

While experts say that the key to weight loss is 80 percent diet and 20 percent fitness, I believe they ignore the all-important mental component: No diet or lifestyle change can be successful without conviction. This is why so many diets fail.

So, I encourage my clients to change their mindset first, before cleaning out the pantry or joining a gym. With focus and purpose, health-related resolutions are easier to achieve.

Keep in mind my five guiding tenants, as you work toward your goals:

1. Never give up. Having a dream is really about having a goal. Tap your fighting spirit and face challenges head on. You can achieve anything you set your mind to.

2. Focus. Weight loss is physically demanding, but never loses sight of where you want to go. Write down the reasons you want to become fit or lose weight, and read them daily.

3. Take baby steps. It’s the tortoise and the hare concept: Slow and steady wins the race.

4. Have a short memory. Forget about your mistakes or poor choices. Don’t dwell on them or punish yourself. Believe in the future and your abilities.

5. Push yourself. Even when you feel tired, know that what you do today will make you stronger tomorrow. Small, consistent changes will yield big results.

Now, you’re ready to tackle your vices! Here are four very common ones and simple solutions for overcoming each.

Bad Habit #1: You have a sweet tooth.

Solution: Let’s face it. Apple slices do not satisfy a sweets craving like a piece of chocolate. So, have a piece, and learn to savor every morsel. It’s a process to train your brain to be satisfied with one serving, but it’s worth it. You can have your cake and eat it, too!

Bad Habit #2: You succumb to afternoon snack attacks.

Solution: Eat more during breakfast and lunch. Most likely, you’re hungry because you haven’t eaten enough earlier in the day.

Bad Habit #3: Water isn’t your favorite beverage.

Solution: Drink iced coffee and tea. Research shows that coffee and tea count toward daily hydration requirements. Or make water interesting by drinking sparkling water and club soda.

Bad Habit #4: You’re always grazing.

Solution: Eat when you’re hungry, don’t mindlessly munch. Sit down and be conscious about each and every bite.

Tina Ruggiero, M.S., R.D., L.D., is a nutrition expert and award-winning author. Her newest book is “The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook.” Find Tina at