Keep that resolution

With the New Year comes those dreaded resolutions, and for many busy parents, they revolve around fitness and health. Experts agree that instead of resorting to unattainable goals that fizzle out by early February, the key to long-term success is to implement specific changes into your daily eating habits and exercise routine.

We asked journalist and “Today” anchor Jenna Wolfe to share her five best tips from her new book “Thinner in 30.” Wolfe is not only a fitness buff, she’s also a certified personal trainer, and a very busy New York City mom to boot. Her advice is not only practical but doable:

Stop eating simple carbs after 6 pm. This means no sugar, bread, white rice, white potatoes, and nothing that comes out of a box. This is where and when we do our most damage. We’re tired, hungry, lazy, and distracted, so we let our guards down. If we’re out at a restaurant, we attack the bread basket and the apps before we ever even see our main course. If we’re home, we snack, graze, eat dinner followed by more dinner followed by a snack and maybe dessert. Follow this tip, and you’ll save hundreds of calories a night.

Eat one less bite at every meal, and chew longer. Finishing every last morsel on your plate feels right, and seems ok, but studies show you can save 75 calories a day by leaving one last bite. And if you chew your food longer, you’re extending the time between bites. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it’s full, and in those 20 minutes, you could do so much damage! Chewing your food 20 times before swallowing could add up to 112 fewer calories per meal.

Drink 20 sips of water first thing in the morning. Don’t count ounces or glasses or cups, just swallow 20 times. That’s it. When you wake up in the morning, your body is already dehydrated. Drinking 20 sips (almost nine ounces) will wake you up, kick start your metabolism, and even curb some of your hunger pangs.

Download a new workout mix and arrange your music the right way! Don’t just put your music on shuffle. Instead, arrange your songs from least favorite to most, so your best songs won’t play until about halfway through your workout. That way, you’ll get a boost just when you need it most.

Keep a strict food diary three weeks a month. Write down every last bit of food you eat over the course of the day. It doesn’t matter what you eat, just write it all down. Want to take it up a notch? E-mail that list to a friend every night. You will begin to make changes to your diet on your own. When we’re held accountable for our own actions, we suddenly become responsible for them. Do this for three straight weeks, and then take a week off and compare how much you eat during both stretches.

Danielle Sullivan, a mom of three, has worked as a writer and editor in the parenting world for more than 10 years. Sullivan also writes about pets and parenting for Disney’s Babble.com. Find Sullivan on her blogs, Just Write Mom and Some Puppy To Love.