Sticking to New Years Weight Loss Resolutions

by Helen M. Ryan

The new year is here. Did you make weight loss resolutions? Are you on track or have you been slipping? In my fitness column for LA's the Place I outlined a simple way you can be successful with weight loss - by using one simple tool. Read the article below.
There is one date that is magical for many people. It is filled with hope and idealistic dreams as new and unmarked as freshly fallen snow. The slate is wiped clean and empty as time starts anew, and anything feels possible. This special date? January 1, home of the New Year’s Resolution.
New Year’s resolutions are the conventional end to the Holiday season. Each year people all over the world party the old year out, with intentions of starting the new year with a bang of positive action. From quitting smoking and saving money to running a marathon, New Year’s Day marks a new beginning. But these new beginnings are often short-lived since four out of five people don’t keep their resolutions.

In fact, 30% don’t even make it to the end of January.

One of the hardest resolutions to keep is the resolution to lose weight and get in shape. Why? Because people often don’t have a plan, or an idea of what it takes to get there and how to stay motivated. They start drastically cutting their calories, over-exercising and trying to undo years of damage in an impossibly short amount of time. By the end of the first week they are hungry, tired and discouraged…and their resolution begins to wane.

Can you be the one that succeeds? Yes, absolutely, by using the most important weight loss tool in your arsenal: Your brain.

Success or failure at anything is all in your head so to speak. Weight loss itself truly is easy. It’s simply burning more calories than you take in. So why is so difficult to accomplish? Because of our brains. You need to ‘outsmart your smarts’ and here are five ways to do it.

5. Find the reason. If your motivation to lose weight is to just “be better looking” you are setting yourself up for failure. Being “hotter” is not a real enough goal to keep you from that plate of warm, inviting nachos. Your main motivation should always be your health, not weight loss.

Your focus needs to be on balancing your blood sugars, lowering your cholesterol, improving your muscle strength and bone density, and elevating your  mood. Every time you reach for something you think you shouldn’t be eating ask yourself, “How does this benefit my health?” If it doesn’t benefit you, don’t eat it (or don’t eat a lot of it – a little bit is fine).

Think of your body as a car, and the foods you eat as the gas (fuel). An apple will fuel you better than a doughnut.

4. See the gray. Don’t look at food and exercise as black or white (“If I eat this cookie, I have blow in and I might as well continue to eat”, or “I don’t have time to go to the gym today so I might as well do nothing”). Black and white thinking gets us all it trouble. The gray areas, though hard to get used to, are where health and happiness meet.

Did you drink two glasses of wine instead of one? So what? Just stop now, move on, and remember to pay attention next time. Don’t compound any damage by continuing to eat or drink. One incident really doesn’t matter. It’s your whole week that counts.

3. Find balance. You can be the thinnest and fittest in the land, but will you truly be happy? Probably not. The happiest people are in great shape and overall healthy, but they are not stick-thin and they do indulge once in awhile.

After a night of hanging out with friends and eating less healthily, for example, these fit people are back at the gym, full of tales from the night before and no regrets. It’s not a big deal to them. They are both taking care of their physical and emotional needs by giving in once in awhile.

2. Take yourself seriously. We focus so much on everything and everyone around us (our jobs, kids, spouses, activities) that it’s easy to not take our own health seriously. Day after day we often put other people first, leaving our own needs in the dust.

The solution? Realizing that every “bad” choice has a longer term consequence on our health than just what we do at the moment. Take your health seriously and make smaller, positive choices every day - for you.

1. Realizing you only have one shot. The life we have is the only life we get and there are no “do-overs.” If you are waiting for that perfect time or the perfect set of situations to start taking care of yourself and losing weight, it’s not going to happen. You have to make things happen. On your own. Now. Today. Before it’s too late.

Only you can change your life and your mind. By reconsidering the way you think about your life, food, and exercise will you be successful with weight loss. You will begin to see a larger picture, and not just the moment…and you will be happier, thinner and most of all, healthier.

Published January 8, 2011