Weight loss is probably one of the top resolutions people make in January. Along with getting fit, cutting out smoking, or changing jobs. After the craziness of Christmas, the partying, the eating, the drinking, our minds turn towards resolving to live better lives. People resolve to make changes. And they really mean to keep them.
Life gets in the way and those resolutions fall by the wayside. The first two weeks in January the gyms are packed. Then slowly but surely the flood of fitness fanatics eases to a trickle until, by the end of the month, only the dedicated regulars are left.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some steps you can take to make your Healthier You resolutions stick.
Find Your Why.
It’s easy to decide to make changes to your life. It’s a lot harder to make them stick. Most of us are creatures of habit. We have a way of doing (or not doing) things and we get comfortable. Vanity isn’t a strong enough motivator to get you moving on a cold winter’s night or in the heat of summer. It’s one thing to know you’d look better if you dropped a few pounds. It’s another thing to keep at it. You need a stronger reason. Something that will keep your feet to the fire. If you have children you already have a strong enough motivation. You want to be around to see them grow up, to see your grandchildren. You also want to be able to keep up with your kids, to have fun with them and not get winded or end up in pain. If you have health issues, diabetes or high blood pressure getting active and losing weight can have a huge impact on your health. If you have trouble keeping motivated, write your Why on post-it notes and place them on your fridge, on your bathroom mirror, and anywhere you are likely to be looking several times a day. These will keep your reasons to change in your mind.
Make small changes gradually.
Some people adopt a bull in a china shop mentality and try to make too many changes at once. Then they become overwhelmed, get frustrated, give in to temptations once and totally derail themselves. It’s best to make a few small changes gradually. Then when those changes stick, make a few more. One of the biggest changes you can make is cutting out excess sugar. If you drink soda daily, try cutting it out of your diet. Or at least cutting down how many cans you drink. Soda is essentially just sugar in a can. An average can of Coca Cola contains over 30 grams of sugar. Just cutting that out can help you lose the first five to ten pounds in the matter of a couple of weeks. Tweaking your diet can have a huge impact on your health. Calorie tracking apps like My Fitness Pal will help you become aware of how many calories you should be eating daily to lose weight. More important, it will show you how many calories you really ARE eating daily. Hint: It’s probably more than you think! Being aware of calorie consumption along with portion control are even more important to your weight loss than fitness activities.
This is probably the biggest reason people fall off the wagon. You’ve started a diet, you’ve joined a gym, a week has passed and you’ve only lost a couple of pounds. Or worse, you haven’t lost any weight at all. Many people have a misconception that once you start consciously working to lose weight the pounds should just melt off. It’s not helped by companies like Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem promising you can lose x amount of weight in x amount of time. Mostly because the food they give you is so low calorie you’re practically starving yourself. You didn’t gain the weight overnight and, no, you won’t lose the weight overnight. You also won’t totally derail your efforts if you give in to temptation and eat that piece of cheesecake, over do it at a party or have a blow out in any other way. The worst that will happen is you gain a pound or two for a day, mostly just water weight. No, the worst that will happen is you will just use it as an excuse to just quit trying to lose weight. Don’t be that person. The weight loss will come if you just trust the process and stick with it.
Find an accountability partner.
Losing weight can be a lonely process. It can be hard to motivate yourself to get out for that run or walk, or to go to the gym on that cold winter night, or when it’s 90 degrees outside and the air is so humid you could cut it with a knife. Find an exercise buddy to work out with. When it’s just you, it’s easy to make an excuse not to go for that workout. If you have someone relying on you it’s a lot harder. Pick someone who is as determined as you are to get in shape and who won’t allow your excuses to stop. Hold each other accountable. If you don’t have anyone who fits that bill, join a club or a fitness class and start meeting other fitness fanatics. Exercise is addictive. Once you get into the habit of working out and you’ve felt that energy rush a few times you won’t want to stop.
This may sound counter intuitive but biggest mistake most people make is going on a diet. Why is this a mistake? Because the act of going on a diet suggests that at some point they will come off that diet and then go back to their old eating habits, which….is the reason they gained the weight in the first place.
That’s the essence of yo-yo dieting.
The biggest favor you can do for yourself to not only lose weight, but also keep it off, is to adopt a healthier way of eating. This means eating more real food and less processed and sugary foods. Most people know that junk food is supposed to be an occasional treat, but in this modern rush-rush world it’s easy to lean on junk food as a convenient and quick fix. You don’t have to cut out that piece of cake, or a donut or chocolate. Just cut down on the amount, make it a treat instead of a daily thing, and focus on eating more real and healthy foods. And, yes, fast food restaurants are a quick and easy way to get dinner, but think about the health of youyou’re your family. If you’re short on time there are tons of meals you can make in minutes. Just do a search on the internet. And if you have a day where you have more time you can always make meals for several days and freeze them. That way you have healthy meals you can heat in minutes.
Many people eat far more sugar than they need to. And one thing I have learned is when you do drastically cut your sugar intake real food actually tastes better.
I have lost over 70 lbs through changing the way I eat and running. Running isn’t for everyone, but it’s a high calorie burner and it definitely helped me with my weight loss. Just don’t think running gives you a free pass to eat more junk food. You can’t out run a bad diet. When you combine healthier eating with being more active you should find losing weight to be less frustrating. So as you prepare to make your resolutions to be fitter, healthier, whatever it is you want, remember to be patient. It takes time. It’s not going to be a quick fix. But it’s totally worth the effort. If you stick with it, this time next year you will be thanking yourself for a job well done.