#5: THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT! Truly, there is a app for everything under the sun these days. And most people seem to have an iTouch/iPhone/Andriod/whatever that can host different apps from distance trackers to cadence counters to calorie counters. My favorite is the Tap and Track app ($4.99, iTunes). You type in your personal information like your height, weight, etc, you enter in how much you'd like to lose a week, you figure out your BMR (not BMI; your BMR is your basal-metabolic rate, or the rate your body burns calories without exercise, based on your level of general activity), and you're pretty much ready to go. From there, you can enter in meals from the database, or exercise to bank those activity points. Calorie counting is terribly important- calories in mean calories out!! You may be surprised to find you're eating way more calories than you suspected, or way less. A person trying to shed a few pounds doesn't need more than a 500 calorie deficit; any more and it confuses the body, sends it into starvation mode. You can end up packing on weight instead of shedding it! I know it's a pain to enter your meals in. But after a couple of weeks, you get a great idea of what actual portions look like, and I'm willing to bet you'll see results.
#4: WEIGHING YOUR OPTIONS. For goodness sake, get a food scale. You can get one for less than $20 at Wal-Mart if you're hard up for cash. You will be shocked when you see how much an ounce of hummus and an ounce of pita chips are, or how much 4 ounces of salmon is. Eating healthy is great, but if you're eating more calories than you're supposed to by not controlling portions, it won't give you the results you're looking for.
#3: JOIN THE CLUB. How did I get my own ball rolling when I started? I needed support. So I made a club, found people with a similar goal, and started jogging with them. I promise you, there are other people out there who are goal-oriented. Poke around Facebook. Join dailymile, where community members log miles and provide kudos for each other. If you live in Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Area Runners has group runs and summer training for all skills of runner, from beginner on up. Join a baseball league. Find two friends who will go walk with you. Have a healthy cooking party, or teach your kids some healthy recipes. There are lots of ways to make healthy habits a lot more fun.
#2: SLEEP IT OFF. How many hours of sleep are you getting a night? 6 hours? Less? You should be getting at least 7-9 hours a night, people. Studies show that not only does less sleep make you tired and less able to function in everyday tasks, but it can aid weight gain. For more on the connection between sleep and weight loss/gain, visit http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/lack-of-sleep-weight-gain
#1: YOU. I can sit here and tell you to buy a food scale and count your steps and count your calories. But in all honesty, you are your own best tool. You have to make a decision to care about your health. You have to get up and go out. You have to cook for yourself, instead of taking the easier way. Because this isn't about a fast and easy fix. This is about a slow and deliberate CHANGE. I just read a startling fact: 40% of New York Public schoolchildren are overweight; 25% are obese. Think about that. We, as parents and mentors and aunts and uncles and friends, have learned bad behaviors, and are passing them off to the innocent. And it's largely because many don't know any better. Take it upon yourself to educate yourself. Find out where your meat comes from. Find out where your fruits come from. Check out your child's school lunch menu. Buy a reusable water bottle. Cook dinner a few nights a week if that's all you can manage. Make small choices, and they'll add up.
And never, ever think "I'm just one person." Think, "I'm a person, and I am the difference."
"When I finish a run, every part of me is smiling." - Jeff Galloway