Give yourself the best treat: a healthier body

January 03, 2018 / Michael M. Siegel MD

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It’s a familiar feeling: you want to be in better shape and have more energy. But depriving yourself of your favorite foods is no fun. And getting yourself to exercise when you’re tired—it’s tough every day. So why is it that some people can keep off the extra weight, and squeeze in those regular workouts? What’s their secret?

It could be the way they LOOK at eating right and staying active. Think of it this way: eating healthy is a gift you give to yourself. Exercising is self-care. You deserve to be taken care of, and you’re the perfect person for the job. Anytime you have trouble staying on track, remind yourself that this simple shift in perception can help you reach your goals of living, looking and feeling your best.

Below, we’ve got more tips to help you give yourself the gift of a healthier you.


  • Focus on the deliciousness of healthy foods: If you’re having trouble staying on your healthy-eating diet, shift your mindset. Instead of letting yourself feel deprived, put it in your head that you’re indulging in delicious treats! A study that offered vegetables on a menu that described them with adjectives usually used for unhealthy foods (like “slow roasted,” “rich,” and “carmelized”) increased the consumption of vegetables by 41% over those described by the standard health-oriented adjectives.1

  • Think yourself healthier, literally: Just believing you are physically active, as opposed to thinking you are lazy and don’t exercise enough—this can improve your health. In fact, a recent study showed that people who thought of themselves as less active than others had a mortality risk up to 72% higher 21 years later than people who perceived themselves as more active, controlling for actual levels of physical activity. 2. So to magnify the benefits of exercise, be sure to think of yourself as an active, healthy person.

  • Drink lots of water: Everyone has heard the advice, "Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.” It’s something simple you can do that really works. Why? Because drinking water can boost your metabolism, which helps your body burn calories faster. Try drinking water right before a meal and you may also eat less.

  • Keep track of what you eat: The more you can count calories and pay attention to every snack and meal, the less likely you are to overeat. There are many ways to do this: keep a food diary, get a diet buddy and check in with them over what you eat, take pictures of everything, or use one of many smartphone apps—whatever works for you. Keeping a food journal not only helps a person lose weight but also helps them keep it off! Seeing the caloric content of your diet can influence your food choices and keep you on the right track.

  • Reward yourself for doing the right thing: Choose the right kind of reward, in an amount that makes sense. If you’ve lost a lot of weight, you might want to give yourself a non-food-related prize, like a massage, new workout clothes, or a trip to the movies. Also, to keep yourself from feeling deprived, you can give yourself a LITTLE treat to eat. Just don’t go overboard. Try cheating on your diet once a week, as opposed to all weekend long. And don’t beat yourself up if you slip up. Everyone makes mistakes. Just remind yourself of everything you’ve done well and encourage yourself to get back on track.

1. Association Between Indulgent Descriptions and Vegetable Consumption: Twisted Carrots and Dynamite Beets. Bradley P. Turnwald, MS, Danielle Z. Boles, BA, Alia J. Crum, PhD

2. Health Psychology, Perceived Physical Activity and Mortality: Evidence From Three Nationally Representative U.S. Samples. Octavia H. Zahrt and Alia J. Crum. Online First Publication, July 20, 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000531