Like many of us, I have put on a little extra weight at times, like the summer before college, during my residency, and, most recently, when I had my baby. But when it’s time to get back into shape, I don’t think of it as trying to lose weight; I think of it instead as getting back to my healthier self.

Even if you have never been as thin as you wanted to be, the healthier you is in there and can be found with some refocus and by keeping the following tips in mind:

  1.  You get skinny in the kitchen and fit in the gym—both are important, but starting a new workout is not an excuse to eat excessively.
  2. Take responsibility for the choices you make. Rather than using excuses like “I can’t help it if there’s always junk food at work” or “I can’t work out because the weather is too bad”, realize that you decide what you eat and what you feed your family, and that there are many ways to stay active. 101 Ways to Lose a Pound offers great tips and different ways to exercise.
  3. Forgive yourself and move on. Sometimes you will make bad choices, but one bad choice will not ruin you. Live in the now or plan for the future; don’t beat yourself up for yesterday’s mistakes.
  4. Make exercise fun, and find activities you can do with friends and family that don’t revolve around food—activities like shopping, hiking, dancing at a concert, or walking around the zoo.
  5. Stay out of food ruts by playing with new recipes.
  6. If you’re having trouble finding healthy meals outside of the house, research recipes online and plan your orders ahead of time. This way you can still allow yourself to go out to eat with friends.
  7. Stay away from trendy diets like gluten-free, vegan, or paleo. I believe that unless you have a medical condition that requires you to avoid certain foods, moderation is best. Why I Don’t Recommend A Vegan, Raw, Paleo or Gluten-Free Diet discusses how to find balance of natural foods without sticking to a specific diet trend.