You’ve made the decision to lose weight — now what? If you’re already following the South Beach Diet, you’re on the right path to achieving your goal. Making healthy changes to your daily routine doesn’t have to be a challenge. Here are four simple strategies to help you get started:
- Eat a balanced, nutrient-dense, high-fiber diet. When planning your meals and snacks for the week, make sure to include a variety of nutritious foods such as lean protein, beans and other legumes, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and good unsaturated fats, as well as whole fruits and whole grains on Phase 2. Avoid highly processed sugary and starchy carbs that can cause swings in blood sugar and lead to unhealthy cravings, and stay away from saturated-fat and trans-fat-laden snacks and fast food. Choose one of our South Beach Diet 100-Calorie Snack Bars or a South Beach Diet Protein Fit Cereal Bar instead!
- Exercise often and maximize your workout. Exercise revs up your metabolism and helps you achieve quicker weight-loss results. The level of commitment is entirely up to you, but do what you can, ideally working in some exercise every day. The most efficient way of exercising is to do intervals in which you alternate bursts of fast, intense activity with periods of slower and less-intense recovery. Doing interval walking outdoors or on a treadmill or elliptical, for example, for at least 20 minutes a day can help you shift your metabolism into high gear so that you can burn more calories and fat in less time. The key is to create a realistic exercise plan that you’ll be able to stick with. Alternating interval exercise with core-strengthening exercises on different days is best.
- Get more quality sleep. You can never be truly healthy without getting enough quality sleep. When you get more sleep, you feel better and healthier. In Dr. Agatston’s latest book, The South Beach Wake-Up Call, he writes that people who sleep less tend to weigh more. Sleep deprivation can alter your metabolism as well as interfere with the production of the hormones that help regulate your hunger levels and your metabolism. So when you lack sleep, you're not only tired but you're also hungry, which sets you up for long-term overeating, weight gain, and a host of other health problems. Be sure to get the recommended minimum of 8 hours of sleep each night. If you’re having trouble sleeping, keep a sleep log to help you track your sleep habits. The log should include what time you go to bed and wake up each day; what foods, beverages, and medications you’re taking; and what time of day you exercise, along with anything else you think is important to share with your doctor. This can be a helpful tool when you’re trying to figure out what’s causing your sleep issues.
- Seek out support. Look to your friends and relatives for encouragement. They may want to join you on the diet, but even if they don’t, they can offer inspiration and motivation as you move toward your health and fitness goals. If close friends or family aren't available, you can always find a new friend to follow the diet with you by logging on to the South Beach Diet Online and checking out the Message Boards. Not a member? Sign up to join the South Beach Diet Online today and get access to our database of more than 1,000 recipes.