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It’s that time of year when many of us make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Maybe in the past you’ve embarked on a diet or exercise plan only to drop it weeks later when life got too busy. Weight loss is hard enough, but with kids and a house to take care of, schedules to manage and meals to prepare on top of working a full- or part-time job, it’s not exactly a shock that our plans often don’t pan out.
The key to keeping weight off long-term is to adopt a lifestyle of healthy eating and activity that you actually enjoy. So instead of going on a restrictive diet or trying the latest cleanse, make a few small changes you can live with like swapping out soda for seltzer, or filling up most of your dinner plate with veggies. Take the stairs and walk whenever possible. Nothing should feel like torture, because if it does, you won’t stick with it.
We asked the experts for their top tips for busy parents who want to lose weight. Read on for advice from a doctor, nutritionist and two personal trainers.
THE DOCTOR SAYS: CUT BACK ON THE BOOZE
It’s sad but true—that nightly glass of “mom juice” isn’t doing your waistline any favors. The problem is that one glass of wine usually leads to a second—and once you’ve got a nice buzz going, healthy food choices can go out the window.
“Cutting back on alcohol consumption is an easy way to reduce calories and help get the weight off,” says Michael Jay Nusbaum, MD, a bariatric surgeon in Morristown. “Alcohol consumption seems to be one of my patients’ biggest problems when they come in complaining of weight gain. When we sit down and calculate how many calories they’re actually taking in from alcohol alone, most of them are astonished.” Dr. Nusbaum says it’s okay to enjoy an occasional glass of wine with dinner, as long as it’s in moderation. “My rule of thumb for my patients is you need to exercise an hour for every additional glass of wine after that first glass,” he says.
THE NUTRITIONIST SAYS: STOP EATING OFF YOUR KIDS’ PLATES
A bite of a cookie here, a few spoonfuls of mac and cheese there—unfortunately, all this mindless eating off our kids’ plates can add up to extra calories that can make your cutest jeans impossible to fasten.
“Just because your kids bring it into the house doesn’t mean you have to eat it,” says Vanessa M. Rissetto, a Hoboken-based registered dietitian specializing in weight loss. “It’s cute when your kids come home with cupcakes and sweet treats from the parties they have at school, and holiday time seems to be party time on steroids—but you don’t have to eat whatever they bring home,” Rissetto says.
Rissetto also advocates the revolutionary act of throwing out your kids’ junk food. “No one needs 15 chocolate Santa lollipops. Throw some out and put the rest away in the designated candy box. A week later, they’ll have forgotten about them and be on to the next thing.”
This simple idea is exactly the type of permission you need to avoid keeping candy and junk food in the house. Not having them around will make it easier not to eat them.
THE PERSONAL TRAINER SAYS: PLAN AHEAD, FIND A WORKOUT YOU ENJOY
“Schedule your workouts and stick to them,” says Mary Massey, a Boonton-based personal trainer. “All you need is 30 minutes a day. Plan ahead by laying out your workout outfit the night before and set aside some time for meal prepping once per week. Meal prepping should take less than a couple of hours As the saying goes, ‘If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.’”
Massey also stresses that parents should stop feeling guilty for devoting time to their health and lead by example. “As the parent, you’re in control,” says Massey. “It’s important for everyone around you to see that you make fitness a priority. Expose your children to what living a healthy life is all about.” If you dread going to the gym, the problem may be that you haven’t found the activity that suits you best. Exercising can take on many forms beyond clocking time on a treadmill or stationary bike.
“Find a workout program you enjoy and are comfortable with,” says Danny Colon, personal trainer and owner of Fit Body Boot Camp in South Plainfield. “If you don’t enjoy it, you’ll without a doubt find all the excuses in the world to skip it.”
Colon says that parents in a rush should find a workout that gives them the most bang for the time they put in. “Shorter, more intense exercise is proven to be more effective for fat loss then longer duration programs,” he says.
Whether it’s boot camp or Zumba, Colon says a friend joining you will help keep you active beyond that first week of January. “Working out with a buddy can improve morale and motivation,” he says. “Push each other and create friendly competition.” Instead of embarking on a complete diet overhaul, make 2019 the year you implement a few lifestyle changes that you feel are enjoyable and sustainable. You’ll probably be surprised by how small changes can lead to big results.
Get Motivated: Here’s How
Getting fit doesn’t have to be a boring, unhappy endeavor. Try the following to add some fun to your fitness journey.
These trainer-led workouts can turn a boring treadmill session into a veritable dance party or victory lap.
This at-home workout yields big results (check out the BBG inspos on Instagram @kayla_itsines). It’s all the intensity of a gym without the membership.
Known to you and probably your mom as Weight Watchers, the company has recently rebranded as WW. Make it easier by joining with a friend, and use the app to track your meals.
Sometimes having a cute outfit is all the motivation you need to get started. Ditch the torn tanks and tees and invest in workout gear that makes you look and feel fantastic.
Ronnie Koenig is a freelance writer living in Princeton. Follow her on Instagram @ronniekoenig.