What is a sustainable diet and exercise plan?

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Answered by: Tricia, An Expert in the Healthy Living 101 Category
How many of us have bombed a diet by eating salads and salmon all day only to chow down on dessert or other forbidden goodies at night? Or ruined a good week of healthy eating and exercise only to fall off the diet and exercise bandwagon over the weekend...and never hop back on?

If you frequently find yourself stumbling with these healthy living hurdles, then you're struggling with the same problems as most people around you. While the days of mass-adopted fad diets are over, it has only become harder to find a diet and exercise program that is a good fit, because everyone you talk to seems to recommend something different! You can take their advice about kettlebell workouts, expensive juice cleanses and "power pairing" (constructing meals based on how the nutrients interact with one another to get maximum nutritional results), but in order to get real results, you need to find a healthy lifestyle plan that is enjoyable, affordable, and most importantly, sustainable.

Here are three easy success tips to help you get on the right path and stay there.

1) Consider your realistic schedule when setting exercise goals . If your crazy daily grind does not allow you to work out every day, then don't set a daily gym goal. You will follow it for a week or maybe a month, and then when you miss a couple days, you won't ever go back. Instead, start with a basic goal of 1-3 times per week and work your way up. When you notice the physical and emotional benefits of exercise, you'll start making it more of a priority and all of a sudden your gym time will increasingly inch its way into your permanent calendar.

2) Make little splurges throughout the day. Rather than saving all your "cheat" eating for the weekend, keep some intentional luxuries in your diet in small portions. For example, if the thought of a meal made entirely of lean meat makes you wrinkle your nose in disgust, then pass up that turkey burger and eat half of a regular hamburger. You'll be less likely to be tempted by the french fries, and you'll walk away from the meal without the lingering craving for the real stuff.

3) Keep yourself accountable, even if it means keeping it to yourself. There is nothing more awkward than sitting at a table of co-workers and talking about your unsuccessful weight loss on Wednesday, only to have the same comrades throw you a look of pity and skepticism when you eat pizza with them on Friday. Some of us do prefer some outside encouragement to help keep us accountable, but if the guilt and shame will only make you surrender completely (and publicly), then keep your journey to yourself or to a few close supporters. This way, both the coworker and yourself will be presently surprised when he or she stops you in the hallway and exclaims about how great you look.

While there are certainly an abundance of specific diet and exercise recommendations out there, it is best to implement those practices on top of simple but fundamental habits that work for you. Use these tips to start and maintain a diet and exercise journey that will lead to not just weight loss or fitness aptitude, but to the greater goal of a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

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