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Mind and body

Learn to set distractions aside and return to healthy goals

Lavinia Rodriguez

Lavinia Rodriguez

Everyone faces obstacles that get in the way of achieving goals. Perhaps your workload increased and your exercise routine suffered. That didn't happen to everyone you know at the same time, however.

But holiday-related speed bumps are different. Party invitations, tempting foods, too many cocktails and late-night partying all have the power to disturb our healthy routines and goals. Plus, these disruptions are all packed into just a few weeks. No wonder the holidays can have such a negative impact on health goals.

But the impact will only be temporary if we calmly refocus our efforts away from the holiday distractions and back toward the big picture. The following 10 steps will help you refocus your attention to a healthier lifestyle:

1. Go to the grocery store as soon as possible and restock your kitchen with healthful options. Choose colorful foods you enjoy so you'll want to resume your healthy eating plan.

2. Get rid of any holiday foods that are still hanging around. By now they're probably stale anyway — and if they aren't, they most likely are heavily processed foods that won't do a thing to help you reach your healthy goals.

3. Clean up your surroundings in general. Put away the holiday decorations and give the house a good cleaning. We tend to want to get a fresh start when we feel things are clean and ordered around us.

4. Get out your calendar and schedule daily time to be active. Mornings are best because there's less to interfere with the "appointment with yourself" later in the day, but anytime will do — as long as you keep the appointment.

5. Get your exercise clothes organized and ready. I keep exercise clothes for all seasons in the front of my closet in a section reserved only for them.

6. Exercise close to home. The more convenient exercise is, the more likely it will be that you will do it consistently throughout the year. Whatever you can do in your home or neighborhood is going to save you time and effort.

7. Get your sleeping back on track. Your body needs rest to heal and restore. Sleep is essential for general health and weight loss.

8. Plan some super-nutritious and easy dishes for the next few days to start the momentum of eating well. I have a kale recipe that's my nutrition powerhouse. Eating that kind of food will make your body and your mind feel great.

9. Reduce snacking, and when you do snack, be smart about it. Smart snacking means replacing chips and sodas with fresh fruit, carrots, hummus and other healthy protein sources.

10. Use your imagination to motivate yourself. Spend time imagining relaxing, peaceful scenes and thinking positively about yourself and your life. It's this type of thinking that will get you excited about what the new year can bring to your life.

Disruptions to our healthy lifestyles are neither unexpected nor new, so there's no need to get worked up over them. Recognize that these pauses happen every so often during the holidays as well as other times of year. See these little hiccups for what they are, accept them and keep your long-term focus on health and happiness.

Dr. Lavinia Rodriguez is a Tampa psychologist and expert in weight management. She is the author of "Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management." Send questions to her at

Learn to set distractions aside and return to healthy goals 01/09/14 [Last modified: Thursday, January 9, 2014 4:18pm]
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