Making a new years resolution to start a weight loss diet sounds simple enough. The problems arise with actually sticking to it for anything longer than a couple of days and not becoming confused and overwhelmed by the masses of false, counter productive and plain wrong information (or should I say mis-information) about the best way to lose weight.
Every January literally millions of us make a resolution to lose those extra few pounds (and then some) we packed away over the holiday period – unfortunately, a lot of people get overwhelmed with the amount of conflicting information being pushed in our faces, and ultimately end up opting to follow the latest fad diet or celebrity endorsed weight loss program (without the celebrity in question revealing that they actually had surgery to remove most of their fat!)
A survey back in 2004 revealed that over 30% of us who start a weight loss diet as a new years resolution have abandoned it before February, having lost little or no weight, or in some cases actually gained a few more pounds.
Most fad diets don’t work – in fact most diets don’t. Why? Simply because your restricting your calorific and food intake, which is not something your body can allow you to continue with for too long. So no matter how strong your will power is, your body will ultimately win your over. Instead, why not resolve to eat healthily, get plenty of exercise and set some realistic goals that will help you lose weight and keep it of forever. Here’s some of my favorite weight loss tips:
1. Start small. Set yourself small and easily achievable short term goals. Committing to losing 20 pounds by Valentines day is a bag task – and still 6 weeks away. Aim for 1 pound a week. When you set and achieve smaller short term goals you’ll be amazed at the positive impact it has on your motivation. And 1 pound a week is easily achievable – just aim to cut your calories by 3500 a week (500 a day) and you’re there. Or do some extra exercise that will burn off 500 calories a day. A brisk walk burns about 350 a hour.
2. Track your progress. Track how you’re doing on a daily basis. Have you consume 500 calories less today than normal? That can be eating 250 less and burning off the other 250 with extra exercise. If you commit to walk 30 minutes make a note of it in your journal. Are you going to do 25 press ups and 50 sit ups every day? Keep track of your progress and make a note of how easy it was. After a week or so you should notice that you can do more sit-ups before your stomach muscles start to tire.
3. Create your own tailor made health and weight loss diet plan. The very thought of “going on a diet” suggests that at some point in the future you’ll “come off” your diet and revert back to your old ways – that’s when the yo-yo dieting starts. If you’re not sure about what constitutes “healthy eating” in today’s environment, find a local health professional (perhaps your doctor) or dietician who can give you the help and support you need.
4. Start your exercise program gently. Don’t go mad when you first visit the gym if you haven’t been active for quite a while. It may feel relatively easy at the time, but you’ll suffer for it the day after (and maybe a couple of days after that too). The idea is to do a little bit on a regular basis but leave the gym feeling like you want to do more. That will be a great motivator to want to come back again the next day.
If you over do the exercise, you’re also likely to pull or strain your muscles which could put you out of action for a while – so take it easy and build up gradually.
5. Be selfish with your time. Don’t over commit yourself to your friends, family and work colleagues (that includes your boss). Set aside time for yourself to accomplish your new years resolutions, and don’t let anyone or anything take it away from you.
6. Get your family in on the game. If you have a partner and/or children at home with you involve them in your goals and let them help with meal preparation. Kids especially love cooking, and learning how to prepare and cook healthy food will help them learn some very healthy habits.
If you decide to start running or walking several times a week, take your partner and kids with you (unless you really want that time as “your” time.
Jackie Hogan, MS, RD is a registered dietitian based in Los Angeles. She is a member of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CAND-LAD) and the Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine Practice Group and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Jackie has been featured on Women’s Health, Fitness Magazine, Women’s Fitness, and Men’s Fitness magazine.