Spring is finally here, which means we're all frantically trying to ditch our winter eating habits.
Although heading home and stuffing our faces with Girl Scout cookies while watching reruns of "Friends" might have worked for the cold month of winter, summer calls for a little more discipline.
Swimsuit season is upon us, which means it's time to crack down on the old junk food addiction and develop some healthier eating and exercise habits.
Here are five tips to help you kick your binge eating habits to the curb before summer:
1. Let your wallet take the lead.
You might not realize it, but the money you spend eating out for lunch and dinner can really add up.
Even if you opt for cheaper, fast food restaurants, your bank account probably takes a big hit on the months you choose to eat out rather than pack your lunches.
This is how fast food has become a $100 billion industry in the United States despite offering up low prices.
A great first step in stopping the bad habit of binging on unhealthy meals out is to track what you've been spending on food each month.
Most major banks and credit card companies offer nifty graphs and charts that can show you this.
If you bank with a smaller financial institution, you can track your food spending manually by going through your statements.
Once you have a number, think about what you would do with that money.
Visualizing what you could do with the money you'd save from eating more meals in the house is sure to help you stick to a meal prepping routine.
2. Enforce the 80/20 rule.
Contrary to popular belief, establishing a healthy routine requires a little leniency.
Sure, you'll want to stick to your kale and lean protein most of the time, but some starchy carbs and a little chocolate will be necessary here and there if you're looking to build a program that has the potential to stick.
This is why you should employ the 80/20 rule.
Denis Faye from Beachbody says, “When I made my first big push to clean up my diet, Friday was Cookie Day. I ate like a saint six days a week, but every Friday I had a giant chocolate chip cookie and a latte. Knowing I had Cookie Day to look forward to made all the celery on the other days much more palatable.”
3. Drink water… seriously.
You've heard it before, and you'll likely hear it a whole lot more in your lifetime. In order to establish a healthy routine and achieve your healthiest body, you absolutely must drink water.
Not only does it help you keep your body hydrated and functioning properly, but it also helps you stay full and focus less on snacking.
According to the Mayo Clinic, women should drink at least 9 cups (2.2 liters) of water each day and men should drink 13 cups (3 liters) daily.
If you make sure to at least hit your minimum amount of water each day, fitness pros promise you'll see some awesome weight-loss benefits like increased metabolism, curbed appetite and a boost in energy.
4. Enlist the help of apps and gadgets.
One of the biggest hurdles in quitting junk food is becoming aware of how much junk you're actually eating on a given day.
A doughnut here and a cookie there might seem like nothing if you space them out throughout the day, but the calories really add up when you eat these things consistently.
This is where apps and gadgets can help.
A Fitbit can help you track your activity and caloric intake to get a better idea of how many calories you're taking in and how many you're burning off throughout the day.
This wearable wristband is priced from $65 to $249.95, depending on the model you purchase.
If you'd prefer a more cost-effective way to track your nutrition and exercise habits, there are several apps that would make an excellent alternative to a Fitbit.
You can find a few of the top options here.
5. Replace snacks with veggies.
Finally, we've come to one of the tricks I learned during my quick stint as a fitness competitor: replace snacks with veggies.
When you think about it, you can eat all of the vegetables you want, and it will likely only help, not hinder, your ability to build a healthy body.
Not only do vegetables serve as a healthy alternative to binging on junk food when you get hungry, but they can also help you determine whether what you're feeling is actually hunger or just a craving.
If you find that veggies aren't enough to satiate you, go for a lean protein like chicken or perhaps a serving of almonds.
Just be sure that the healthy snacks you eat stick to recommended portion sizes to remain in control of your caloric intake and avoid binging.
We all swear at the beginning of winter that this will be the year we stay active and stick to a healthy diet during the colder months.
Although we seem so sure this will be the year we make it happen, most of us slip up and settle into winter habits.
Fortunately, a few healthy tactics like those listed above can help you kick your addiction to unhealthy foods and pick up healthy eating habits that will bring you closer to feeling a bit healthier and confident come swimsuit season.