Whether you’re looking improve your health for general reasons in 2017, or are looking to take steps to move towards being able to undergo weight loss surgery later in the year, there are plenty of opportunities and initiatives you can undertake in order to kick start your healthy lifestyle in the New Year.

We’re not suggesting you jump into these ideas as New Year resolutions – we know how easy it is for those to fall by the wayside by the middle of the month even when the sun is shining and you think you’re super motivated – but you should definitely give these some consideration as you look to kick start a healthy lifestyle and move towards a new you.

Step 1: Have a Plan, and Keep Track!

If you don’t have a plan, you’ll struggle to hold yourself accountable for making the changes to your lifestyle, and will quickly fall into the trap of “starting next week” or not having anything to aim for.

The trick with your plan is not to put arbitrary targets in place relating to things like your weight too early. That’s another way to quickly lose motivation.

Instead, plan things you can control, and keep it simple. Have a menu plan, and have a plan of how often you are going to exercise. Remember when you’re getting started with fitness that frequency is more important than intensity. A daily 30-minute walk is a better way to change a sedentary lifestyle than just smash out one massive work-out on the weekend.

As well as having a plan, be sure to keep track of how you do. When you’re struggling for motivation this will remind you how well you’re doing, and likewise as you progress you can look back and remember those more difficult times.

Now you’ve nailed the plan, what else should you consider?

Step 2: Drink More Water

Thirst often comes to you disguised as hunger, so you eat, you put on weight, and you feel unhappy.

Drink more water to suppress hunger and to avoid eating when you’re actually thirsty.

The best approach to this is to ensure you drink around two litres of water per day. Don’t achieve this by bingeing on water when you feel hungry, drink at regular intervals throughout the day and your hunger levels will eventually lower.

Don’t worry if you find yourself going to the toilet more often, either. Once your body adjusts to having more water regularly, and you make your other healthy changes, this will go back to normal.

Step 3: Stop Snacking, or at Least Control What You Snack

Some people advocate the “little and often” strategy for eating, and if this works for you then go for it. The best approach is to cut out snacking altogether and ensure you eat well at mealtimes. However, if you are going to snack, eat things that will boost your health. Fruit and small servings of nuts are both suitable, or you could even make yourself a “snack box” to take to work with you. Salad leaves, chopped peppers and carrots, and cherry tomatoes are great choices here, and can be your lunch or dinner if you haven’t snacked on them through the day!

Step 4: Think Colour when Eating

If you look at your plate and it is filled with beige – which usually signifies processed foods cooked from frozen – something needs to change. Opt for as many colours as possible on your plate at each mealtime to ensure you’re giving yourself the widest range of nutrients and phytochemicals – which are the chemical compounds in plants that can help prevent certain cancers, reduce the risk of strokes, and offer many more health benefits.

Step 5: If You Want a Treat, Eat It

Even the world’s biggest healthy lifestyle magazines now tell you to indulge yourself when you feel you need to. Having a bar of chocolate once a week or indulging in your favourite takeaway once a month can be great for helping you to feel like you’re still getting the things you enjoy while being healthy. It’s far better to do this than it is to always have to force yourself to stick to a healthy eating plan, as doing the latter you’re far likelier to “fall off the wagon” completely and fall back into a full-time unhealthy lifestyle.

Whether you’re seeking general health gains in 2017 or you’re working towards undergoing weight loss surgery to truly change your life and boost your confidence, make sure you have a plan that includes these steps. Keep track of how you do, give yourself a break on the days when you feel like you need to indulge, and approach your healthy lifestyle with a positive mindset. Do this, and you’ll look back on 2017 as the year when everything changed.

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