Setting Goals

Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to be able to run up and down your stairway without becoming winded? Do you want to reduce cholesterol or lower your blood pressure? Decide what you want to achieve over the next month, and over the next year.

One possible goal for your first month could be a resolution to take your lunch to work four days per week for each week this month instead of eating lunch in restaurants every day. Another example of a monthly goal would be to walk for 30 minutes four days per week each week this month.

Start with your statistics. Take body composition measurements and make your goals. Then write down your goals in a notebook or in the food diary you are going to create in step seven.

Determining Your Dietary Needs

Here are some ideas you might want to consider:

Do you have high blood pressure? If so you may wish to reduce sodium in your diet by avoiding canned and packaged foods.
Are you overweight? You need to decrease your calorie intake or increase your amount of physical exercise. You can choose a low-carb diet or a low-fat diet, just be sure to watch your calories and portion sizes.
Do you have diabetes? If so, then you need to reduce your sugar intake.
Do you have high cholesterol? Increase your intake of soluble fiber like the fiber found in oatmeal. It will help lower your cholesterol levels.
Reduce your intake of saturated fats and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, flax, walnuts, and canola oil.

Dietary Supplements

A healthy diet should give you all of the vitamins and minerals you need, but many people take vitamins just to make sure. There are several formulations available, but all you need is a simple multivitamin and multi-mineral supplement. Speak with your health care provider before you take any additional supplements or if you have any health conditions.

Design Your Healthy New Diet

Here’s what you need to know to design your new diet:

How many calories do you need to eat each day to reach your weight gain or weight loss goal?
How do your eating patterns fit your lifestyle?
Do you feel better with three large meals per day or five smaller meals per day?
Will you continue to eat in restaurants often?
What types of fruits and vegetables do you like?
A healthy diet should give you five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day, 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day, five or six ounces of protein per day and a small amount of omega-3 essential fatty acids. To stick with your new diet, you’ll want to include foods you enjoy. If you love hamburgers, that’s okay. Make them at home with whole grain rolls and cut down the size of the burger patty, or use ground turkey. Add lots of lettuce, onion, and tomato. Serve your burger with a salad instead of fries.

More Tips

Choose crunchy raw green beans instead of chips and serve them with a little of your favorite dip.
Replace high fat hot dogs with soy dogs.
Choose whole grain bread and pasta instead of white bread and white pasta.
Skip the sugary desserts and have a small dish of fresh berries with a dab of whipped cream or non-fat whipped topping, then add a sprinkling of chopped walnuts.
Use lemon juice instead of oil for as salad dressing.
Choose low-fat ground turkey instead of high-fat ground beef to cut back on saturated fat (read the label – not all ground turkey is low in fat).

Exercise, Fitness and General Health Goals

Good nutrition is just one part of a healthy lifestyle. Another component of health and fitness is exercise. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you need to get out and get moving. If you want to lose weight, it is important to increase aerobic activity like walking or running. If you need to increase your strength, then you need to start resistance training such as lifting weights.

There are health clubs, gyms, personal trainers as well as at-home equipment to get you fit and healthy.

Do you smoke? If so, you’ll do yourself a favor by quitting. Smoking has been connected to many chronic diseases, plus you will save a lot of money over the next year if you quit smoking.

How much alcohol do you drink? One drink per day has been shown to be beneficial. More than one drink per day can be detrimental to your health, however. If you find yourself drinking more than four ounces of wine, two ounces of liquor or twelve ounces of beer each day, then you may need to decrease your consumption of alcohol.