If getting in shape is at the top of your list of New Year's resolutions, here are a two words of advice: Start small.
In other words, do not attempt to run three miles on your first day if you haven't been out in years -- or ever. You won't be able to finish, will likely become discouraged and avoid going out again until this time next year! Instead, set an achievable goal such as walking. Pick a safe distance, say two to three miles, and get to stepping (only you know how far you can walk).
When you feel up to it, run for a stretch of time and walk for the rest. Walking also is a good form of exercise, no need to run. Just be sure to monitor your food intake so you can burn more calories a day than you eat.
Here are five more ways shape up for the New Year from 'The 4 Day Diet,' by Dr. Ian K. Smith:
1. Become a Mindful Eater
"Too many of us don't pay attention to what we're eating or how we're eating...we're indulging in mindless eating. ...Allowing yourself to focus on your food means a better appreciation for what and how much your putting inside your body. ''
"The benefits of exercise are endless. You know that exercise burns calories, improves heart and lung function and prevents obesity. But exercise can also be instrumental when trying to avoid emotional eating.''
3. Eat the Right Foods
"If you simply must indulge in foods during times of emotional crisis, then at least reach for the foods that come with health benefits...raw vegetables, whole fruits, whole-grain breads and cereals, popcorn without butter.''
4. Control Your Environment
"If the unhealthy food isn't there, you can't eat it. Why tempt yourself unnecessarily? Clean out your cabinets and refrigerator and toss the chocolates, chips, sodas and ice cream so that even though you may want to turn to these foods for comfort when you are facing an emotional crisis, they won't be available.''
5. Small Substitutions Can Make a Big Difference
"While successful dieting is definitely more than just counting calories, saving them wherever you can give you an advantage. What you slather on your sandwich, drizzle over your salad can make the difference -- a couple of hundred calories' worth."