New Year’s resolutions. Pick the right lane and stay the course.
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By Andrea Holwegner BSc, RD  “The Chocoholic Dietitian”  www.healthstandnutrition.com 

To get to high school most days, I caught a ride from our suburban neighbour-hood to downtown with my dad. My dad, a laid-back banker, had done the busy rush hour com-mute most of his life and learned to chill out, merge over to the right hand slow lane, and get there when you get there. When I learned to drive, like many teen-agers I vowed to live life in the fast lane (after all, the right lane was “for old folks”).

On special days if I got to take the car, the same commute to get to school was full of exciting (although some would say life threatening) driving. I wove in and out of traffic and changed lanes a million times to get there faster. I was proud of myself until I realized I only arrived at most a whopping five minutes earlier than my dad would have.

Worse yet, I got a speeding ticket one morning that put me in my place. My dad didn’t say much, but I’m sure what he really wanted to say was “I told you so.”

After that, I decided to drive in the right lane “for old folks” regularly. I usually follow one lane and just get there when I get there. When I occasionally digress into the old habit of changing lanes too often, I end up stressed out and realize I am nowhere ahead.

When it comes to wellness and nutrition changes, do you change lanes too often?

Stay consistent with your eating and exercise plan

If you are constantly changing your eating or exercise plan to keep up with the latest fad or be-cause you are impatient and want results faster, you may end up defeated and nowhere ahead. To be most successful at seeing results in your health and weight management, pick a lane, then trust and stay the course long enough to let the results unfold.

It takes more than three months to have the nutrition changes you are making start to show up in your blood cholesterol levels. It may also take you months of exercise to notice real changes in your blood pressure. If you are trying to lose weight, aim for one to two pounds of weight loss per month. Unless you are on a reality TV show and have the whole day to focus on exercise and extreme nutrition changes, faster weight loss isn’t likely. Also remember that anyone can lose weight, but can you sustain it?

Which lane should I pick?

You likely already know the basic, often boring things you need to do to improve your health. Eating more veggies, getting off the couch and moving more or simply drinking more water might not sound as sexy as the new diet books that are out just in time for the new year’s resolution season, but they work.

Start with evidence-based medicine and associations that track the latest scientific research for the basis of public recommendations. Look to groups such as Health Canada and the Dietitians of Canada to get started. Then stay the course and make 2012 a year of constant progress rather than another year of lane changes.

Top 3 lane changes to make for the New Year

Get started on a new year’s resolution by nailing these basic yet critical nutrition changes:

1. Drink more fluids, including water, sparkling water and other low-sugar beverages such as tea to reach about 2 litres per day. Dehydration is common  and may lead to overeating and fatigue.

2. Eat a healthy breakfast every day. This is one of the single most important ways to correct over-eating in the evening and balance out the indulgences from the holidays.

3. Give yourself more than one opportunity each day to eat vegetables. You won’t eat enough if you only have them at supper. Add raw veggies and dip, salad or vegetable soup as a daily snack or as part of lunch.

Andrea Holwegner, the Chocoholic Dietitian, is the owner of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. Visit www.healthstandnutrition.com or phone 403-262-3466 for nutrition counselling, speaking engagements and to subscribe to her free monthly ezine. Twitter: @chocoholicRD

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"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
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Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
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Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
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Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

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I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

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Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
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