7. Don’t forget portion control. As you get back into a more structured routine, it is a great time to get more detail-oriented. “Just like sharpening your pencils to get ready for school, break out the measuring cups and see how much food you have been putting on your plate,” says Krieger. “Portions have a tendency to get larger, so keep portion sizes in check by measuring the quantity once in a while.”
5. Start each day with breakfast. “Having breakfast gets your engine started during those critical morning hours when you are busy at school or work,” says Zied. “Skipping breakfast is an invitation for over-consumption of less nutritious foods later in the day.” Try to work fiber, lean protein, and fruits or vegetables into your breakfast. If you’re not a breakfast person, you don’t have to have much: A low-fat yogurt and a piece of fruit is enough to get your day started and control your appetite.
6. Strive for progress, not perfection. If you follow healthy food and fitness guidelines 80% of the time, the new habits will become a part of your life without overwhelming you. “Many people think in terms of black and white when they think about eating and fitness habits,” says Zied. “In reality, we should get comfortable living in gray, somewhere in between. Doing even 20 minutes of exercise, cutting portions by even a few bites, and switching from 2% milk to 1% milk — these small things can have a big impact on your health and on your life.”
3. Don’t fail to plan. Write down your master plan for how you’ll fit in fitness and eat healthier and factor it in as you plan schedules for the new school year. “It is not enough to say you are going to exercise daily; you need to be more specific, such as going to the gym on the way to work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,” says Elisa Zied, RD, author of So What Can I Eat?. And don’t forget to include snacks in your planning: “If you think of them as random eating, they are less likely to be healthy,” says Krieger. She suggests buying portable snacks such as fruit, nuts, single-serving yogurts, and low-fat cheese so they’ll always be handy. Snacks high in fiber and lean protein will keep you feeling full between meals.
4. Stock your kitchen with healthy choices. Having nutritious foods readily available makes it easier to work them into your diet. Always have cut-up fruits and vegetables on hand; pair them with low-fat yogurt dip for an instant snack or side dish. “Make it a rule to have some fruit or vegetables before you have a treat, like chocolate, and this way you are less likely to overdo the treat,” suggests Zied.
1. Control your cravings. In the 3-A-Day survey, 52% of the moms said cravings were their biggest challenge in losing weight. Eating every few hours will prevent hunger, keep your blood sugar stable, and reduce cravings, says Sass. “Moms are so busy they tend to go too long without eating, then end up eating too fast, or the wrong kind of foods,” she says. One trick is to plan ahead: Bring along a baggie full of unsalted nuts and dried fruit for when hunger strikes. If sweet cravings are your downfall, Sass recommends chocolate – a few small pieces, that is. Let it melt slowly in your mouth so you can really savor the taste. Don’t avoid the foods you crave; just eat them in small portions.
2. Lace up your sneakers. Half the surveyed moms wanted to lose more than 20 pounds but 72% said they had 30 minutes or less to devote to exercise each day. “Something is better than nothing … even if it is 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night,” says Sass. “It does not need to be formal; just find ways to add more steps into your day.” If you make exercise social (such as walking with a neighbor), it’s more fun, less of a chore, and more likely to become routine. Owning a dog is another great way to get more exercise, as they need to be taken on walks regularly.