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10 Motivational Tips to Keep You Healthy

Experts explain how small steps can help you stay on track to meet your diet and exercise goals.

4. Make Simple Daily Change

Who said health-related lifestyle changes had to be all or nothing? Start small and make a few simple weight loss and exercise changes each day. These small changes can add up over time to give you a big health boost. Here are some suggestions:

  • Add 5 more grams of fiber to your daily meal plan.
  • Cut out refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice, and sweets
  • Avoid foods with trans-fats
  • Add two more servings of veggies at lunch and dinner
  • Drink three more glasses of water each day
  • Add 10 minutes of walking to your daily exercise regimen
  • Take a break every hour at work and walk 500 steps in place (2,000 steps burns 100 calories)
  • Wake up 15 minutes earlier and walk before work

5. Find a Cheering Section

We all need a cheering section -- having to account to someone else gives you a reason to hang in there when you can't muster determination from within. It doesn't matter where the support comes from -- a spouse, friend, co-worker, or online "buddy," or others.

Think of five people who might be in your cheering section. Talk to these people about giving you support and holding you accountable as you work to reach your weight loss or health goals. Call upon your cheering section when you're having trouble sticking with good health habits. When you do reach small weight loss or exercise goals, invite your support group to celebrate with you.

6. Forgive Yourself

If you slip up on vacation and overeat, drink too much, or fail to exercise -- forgive yourself. Don't beat yourself up! Instead, say, "I really enjoyed my vacation," and let it go at that.

Allowing yourself time to enjoy a few indulgences occasionally is OK. If you start to feel guilty for having dessert on a special night out, forgive yourself and start back on your more disciplined program the next day.

7. Never Go Hungry

Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, author of Diet Simple, says the biggest cause of overeating is undereating. "People go too long without eating, and then pig out when they are ravenously hungry."

Rigid diets don't work for anyone. Include planned snacks in your daily diet to prevent binges. Make sure you allow for treats once a week without feeling guilty. Have a brownie every Friday, and enjoy every bite.

8. Remember That Change Takes Time

It's easy to see thin people and think how lucky they are. But here's the truth: If a thin person is over 30 -- or even over 20 -- chances are they are working hard at being thin each day.  Learn from them. Find out how they stay thin. Is it through more exercise? Eating fewer snacks?

According to Kathy Kater, a LSW and psychotherapist in St. Paul, Minn., the research on body diversity is conclusive. "Even if we all ate the same optimal, wholesome diet and exercised to the same high degree of physical fitness, we would still be very diverse in our shapes. Some quite thin and some quite big, but most in the middle."

Make the commitment to change some lifestyle habits and allow yourself plenty of time to see your goal. In addition, accept the fact that your body is meant to be a certain size -- even if that size isn't skinny -- and feel good about it.

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