(April) Fool Yourself Into a Healthier Lifestyle

These simple tricks can help you achieve your personal health goals.

I’m not going play mean tricks on you today. Instead, I’d like to introduce you to Cheryl McClea, Ed.D., certified personal trainer and owner of Xcelerate Fitness in Wilmington.

McClea has made a career of helping others live healthier lifestyles. She knows from her own journey to fitness that a few small changes can have a huge impact on your well-being. “It’s all about adding something to your routine that you’re not doing now, or doing less of it,” she says.

Here are a few of her “tricks:”

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Trick yourself into drinking more

• Water, that is. Did you know that when you’re feeling hungry, you might actually be slightly dehydrated? Dehydration causes you to believe you have to eat when you really need liquid. McClea recommends setting an alarm on the hour every hour while you’re at work. That way you’ll get the recommended 6 to 8 glasses per day.


Trick yourself into exercising

• Exercise needn’t be an “all-or-nothing” affair. Tell yourself you’ll only work out for 10 minutes then add a minute each day. “When I started training for a marathon, I would run for one more red light or stop sign,” says McClea. “It adds up and keeps you motivated.”

• Do something different—and fun. Dancing, kickboxing, hula hooping or jumping up and down on a trampoline are all enjoyable activities that get you moving and burn calories.

• Taking the kids to the playground or to soccer practice? Instead of being a spectator, do a few laps around the field yourself.

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• Plan a social gathering around an activity instead of food.

• We all know that sitting is the new smoking, so try exercising at your desk. Stand while taking phone calls and while you’re at it, mix in a few squats and leg kicks for good measure. Another tip: Do a few laps around the office each day.


Trick yourself into eating less

• Don’t deprive yourself. Instead take the “two-bite” challenge. If there’s a treat you especially crave, stop eating after two bites. “Everything you want to get out of that food or treat, the texture, the taste, you’ll get in just two bites,” says McClea. “After that you’re not experiencing anything new, you’re just eating and that’s a whole bunch of calories.”

• Hire a personal chef. McClea suggests investing the money you’d spend eating out on a pro who can prepare meals with the proper proportions and nutrition.

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• Challenge yourself not to eat more than X times per week and savor those occasions with close friends or a significant other.

• Another tip: Split an entrée with a meal partner or ask for a “doggy bag” so you’re not tempted to overindulge.


Trick yourself into making healthier choices

• Take the “label challenge.” Read labels and decide to forgo foods that have sugar as one of the top two ingredients.,” she says. “You can cut a lot from your diet without actually trying to cut fat or count calories.”

• Pack your lunch. Remember when your mom used to send you off with a lunchbox full of healthy treats? It’s time to take a leaf from her notebook. People who eat out consume far more calories than those who bring their food. Packing a lunch allows you to control your “food destiny.”

• Ditto for snacks. Snacking isn’t bad if you do it in moderation and make healthy choices. Snacking fuels your body between meals, ensures you won’t be ravenous come mealtime and keeps your fat-burning metabolism revved up. But healthy snacking requires planning. “Otherwise you make poor choices when you’re starving,” says McClea.

• Plan ahead. If you’re gong to eat out, know what you’re going to order before you get to the restaurant.


Trick yourself into achieving your goals

• Words have great power in tricking the mind to success. Say your goals out loud and accent the positive. “You’ll start to change the environment around you,” says McClea.

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