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A registered dietitian’s 5 steps for better health in 2021

(BPT) - The New Year always spurs a renewal of personal goals, whether you make resolutions or not. The blank slate of a new calendar year offers a sense of possibilities for making the next year great — and health goals usually top the list.

If you’re looking to put health first, who better to turn to than a registered dietitian? Registered Dietitian Kelli McGrane, MS (@HealthyToast_RD), offers tips for boosting your health through a positive approach to food and exercise that supports your progress year-round.

“When you’re figuring out what health or lifestyle changes you want to make, write out the pro’s and con’s of each change,” McGrane said. “Once you know why you’re choosing these goals, tape that list on your fridge or keep it on your phone for a boost of motivation anytime you need it.”

Here are her top tips for improving your health.

1. Be mindful of what you eat

People are home more than ever and it’s easy to graze mindlessly through the kitchen. And as a result, the calories can add up quickly.

A simple way to monitor your calories is the Lose It! app — an easy, helpful way to track what you’re eating and get inspired with healthy recipes. Since 2008, over 40 million Lose It! users have lost a collective 100 million pounds — that’s 350 billion calories lost.

“The Lose It! app is a great way to help track calories and it also gives you information on the quality of your diet overall,” said McGrane. "You can even use the app to track your water intake and activity throughout the day."

2. Prep your kitchen

More time at home means more time near the kitchen. To avoid temptation, consider moving unhealthy snacks to the back of the refrigerator so you see the healthier choices first.

Also, stock up on colorful vegetables and fruits, choose whole grains and keep lean proteins on hand for snacks. When temptation strikes, try a handful of nuts or a hard-boiled egg, as protein is more likely than highly-processed foods to boost your energy.

3. Find a support system

Whether it’s a friend with similar health goals, a group you can Zoom with or the Lose It! community, a support system is invaluable when working toward lasting changes. Not only can they cheer you on, but they may even join your efforts to get and stay healthy.

While everyone has limited their in-person interactions, there are also many digital resources to help you reach your goals.

4. Figure out what moves you

Everyone’s routines have been upended this year, and fitness is no exception. Now is the time to get creative and find an activity you love. Dancing to music, walking outdoors or using a stationary bike are all great ways to keep active.

“Not only can getting in some form of physical activity help burn calories, but it can also boost your mood,” said McGrane. “Even housework can be a fun workout if you turn up your favorite music while you’re cleaning.”

If you enjoy the outdoors during winter, try skating, skiing or snowshoeing. If you don’t like the cold, online exercise classes or active video games are great options for those without exercise equipment.

5. Get enough rest

People often forget that sleep is a critical part of weight loss and health. In fact, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people were starved of sleep, late night snacking increased.

“Being well-rested is important for having enough energy to exercise and make healthy food choices,” said McGrane. “And often people look to food for energy when what they really need is sleep.”

If you aren’t getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night, notice what’s keeping you from going to bed. Can you turn off the gadgets an hour earlier? A quiet activity like reading or meditation can help you wind down and get to sleep easier.

Staying healthy and fit in 2021 is as easy as following these simple tips. To further help you meet your health and weight loss goals, download the Lose It! app today.