Your Healthy Year Starts Here
1. Gradually rehab your eating habits.
Drastic changes are nearly impossible to maintain. A smarter approach? Add a new nutritious food to your diet each week. "Try a recipe that uses leafy vegetables like kale, or switch to filling, high-fiber grains like whole wheat pasta," suggests Harper. Cut out one unhealthy thing each week as well.
2. Steer clear of temptation.
"If you always pass your favorite fast-food restaurant on the way home from work, find an alternate route or pop some gum when you drive by," says Michaels. At the office, stash healthy snacks at your desk so you don't need to raid the vending machine. Harper recommends dry-roasted nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews.
3. Be realistic.
If it's been ages since you exercised, don't vow to jog three miles a day. Start small: Go for a walk three times a week. Tackling little goals will inspire you to take on larger ones.
4. Get fit with like-minded friends.
The contestants on The Biggest Loser bond because they share the same challenges and goals, says Harper. Join an exercise class with a friend or two so you can cheer each other on.
5. Shop for a week's worth of meals.
Create a healthy menu, then put the foods you'll need -- and only those foods -- on your shopping list. If you don't plan ahead, it's too easy to say, "Screw it, let's order pizza" at dinnertime.
6. Put exercise on your schedule.
Just as you plan out when you're going to see friends, write down the days on your calendar when you're going to exercise, says Michaels. Think of your workouts as mandatory me time -- a chance to clear your head and tune in to your own needs.
7. Revel in small successes.
One of Harper's favorite Losers is army veteran O'Neal Hampton from season nine. "He's a powerful man but he could barely walk up the stairs for his first weigh-in," Harper recalls. "After a while he was able to climb those stairs. It was a small moment but it was also huge. He had this look on his face that said, You cared about me and took the time to help."
8. Trick yourself into exercising.
Think you're too tired to work up a sweat? Tell yourself you'll exercise for just 15 minutes. It doesn't feel intimidating. Plus, once your blood starts flowing and the endorphins kick in, chances are you'll get more energy and want to go longer, says Michaels.
9. Get your family on board.
"You need a good support system when you're trying to make positive lifestyle changes," says Harper. "If everyone is eating burgers and fries while you're having fish and salad, it's easy to lose your willpower." Start incorporating healthier options into your family's meals, such as vegetables and meat-free dishes.
10. Think like a loser.
When The Biggest Loser contestants need to psych themselves up for their workouts, they repeat this mantra: "Believe in yourself. Trust the process. Change forever." See if these words give you a lift the next time you're low on motivation.
11. Spice up your workout.
Going for the same walk every day gets dull, so try something new once a month: Work in an occasional spin or yoga class or add some fitness DVDs to your Netflix queue.
12. Inspire yourself.
Don't post photos of the overweight you on your refrigerator. "Going negative sets a negative tone for everything you do," says Harper. Display a picture from a time when you looked great in a bathing suit to keep you motivated.
13. Don't obsess over the scale.
Instead, find an item in your closet that's too snug and use it to track your weight loss. "When you try on something that was once tight and discover it fits, that's more gratifying than any number," says Harper.