No More Excuses: 18 Ways to Stick to Your Goals
Stick to Your Diet and Healthy HabitsYou're stuck late at work, and your boss is passing around a takeout menu.
You'd planned to head home and make a healthy salad, but now you're facing fatty dinner options. Remember, "restaurant portions are huge, so eat only half," says Jim White, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Your best bets:
Chinese: Beef or chicken with broccoli, or stir-fried vegetables with steamed rice. Tip: Choose brown rice and put no more than a cup of it on your plate. "Even steamed rice has 200 calories a cup," says Marisa Moore, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
Mexican: Chicken or steak fajitas, which have no sauce and plenty of veggies. Tip: Limit yourself to two tortillas and skip the sour cream. Ask the restaurant for extra salsa for flavor.
Italian: Grilled shrimp, fish, or chicken with vegetables. Tip: If you really want pasta, get the primavera or order it with a simple marinara sauce. Avoid cream sauces, lasagna (read: a brick of cheese and meat) and anything "Parmesan" -- code for breaded and fried.
Pizza: A thin-crust slice with veggies for 100 fewer calories than deep-dish. Tip: Swap sausage for chicken.You drank three cups of coffee this afternoon, and now you can't sleep.
It's 10 p.m. and you're lying in bed, trying to get some rest before tomorrow's big presentation. Instead, you feel as though you could sprint around the block. Twice. What gives? "Some people are more caffeine sensitive than others, but generally speaking, you want to cut out coffee and cola by 2 p.m.," says Michael Breus, PhD, a sleep expert and author of Beauty Sleep. Too late for that now, we know. Here's how to cope tonight.
Pick out a good book: The only remedy for over-caffeinating is to wait it out. "Once caffeine is absorbed into your system, it takes eight to 10 hours to break down," Breus says.
Skip the closet overhaul: Resist the urge to use this awake time to do something productive: Stimulating your muscles and nervous system will only make it harder to get to sleep. To improve your shut-eye odds, try this relaxation exercise: Working your way from head to toe, tighten the muscles in your body one by one, hold five seconds, then release.
Break the cycle: "The biggest problem people have with caffeine is that it's hard to stop," Breus says. In the short term, quitting can make you sleepy. If you find you're nodding off at your desk the next day, take a brisk walk outside instead of heading for the java machine. That night, go to bed 30 to 45 minutes earlier to catch up on some zzz's.Your late-night weekends are messing with your Monday mornings.
The beginning of the workweek finds you tired and grumpy and wishing you could have one more day just for sleep. "Regularly disrupting your circadian rhythms causes sleep deprivation, which has been shown to lead to cardiac complications," Breus says. Here's how to get back in sync.
Be consistent: Snoozing until noon on your days off isn't going to help you conk out before midnight. "You won't be tired at night when you want to be," Breus explains. Practice waking up at the same time, whether it's Wednesday or the weekend.
Temporarily unfriend Facebook: Preslumber computer sessions can disrupt your circadian rhythms, thanks to the bright light emitted by the screen, recent research says.
Take 60: Your body and mind need about an hour to make the transition from busy day to sleep mode. "Spend 20 minutes finishing up whatever you were doing, the next 20 on hygiene, and the last 20 on some form of meditation or relaxation," Breus advises. Sweet dreams!
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, November/December 2010.
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