Do you want to make healthy changes to your lifestyle, but feel apprehensive about getting started? Don’t be intimidated, because you don’t have to make drastic changes to lose extra pounds, boost energy, and build stronger health.

Amy Ramsey is the employee wellness and engagement manager at Tucson Medical Center. She shares easy and productive tips that can have a strong impact on your health. What’s the best way to get started?

First, set a goal. Finding our “why” – the real reason we want to do something meaningful, can make the difference between success and failure. Ask yourself how you’ll get there, and envision what it looks like to achieve that goal.

What healthy strategies work best? Be consistent. Create healthy habits that you can include in your daily routine. Whatever those habits are, you need to be consistent if you want to see change.

Be patient. You will not see results overnight and, let’s be honest, you probably may not see results for weeks. That’s okay. Remember, any physical improvement is a mental game as well. You have to want it.

Take small steps. If your goal were easy, you would already be there; it wouldn’t be a challenge. Take this one small step at a time. Trying to make huge changes in diet and activity level could leave you discouraged, frustrated, and possibly injured. Remember that your body and your mind need time to adapt.

Is it best to simply restrict significant calories? No. Less is not always more – severely restricting calorie intake over a long period of time can cause the body to compensate by reducing calorie expenditure. Start by looking at one or two items in your pantry that you know aren’t great for you. Replace them with something from the fresh produce aisle or a healthy option from the freezer aisle.

Will a healthy diet mean no tasty treats at all? Absolutely not. Intentionally making good food choices most of the time will allow you to have that slice of birthday cake without guilt. All things in moderation.

Remind yourself that you can eat anything, but that you choose to eat healthy foods. This will make you feel more empowered, instead of feeling like you are restricted to a certain diet.

Do I have to exercise rigorously to be healthy? Not necessarily. Consult with your doctor about what “healthy” means for you, and create an exercise plan that supports the desired outcome.

What if I’m tempted to quit?  Focus on each day, because what you do today will have an effect on what you do tomorrow. Days turn into weeks, and months, and so on. Recall your “why” – write it down and place it where it is very visible to you throughout the day.

Amy Ramsey is a certified personal trainer and health coach. Please consult your health care provider before making changes to your diet and exercise regimen.

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