Health News

January 14, 2020

Weight Loss Help for the New Year

Losing weight and getting in shape are among the most common New Year’s resolutions, but out of 50 percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, only about 8 percent achieve their goal. Don't let the previous statistic dissuade you from making that New Year's resolution, however! Below are some goal-crafting tips that will help you be part of the successful 8 percent! 

1. Be realistic and specific

Losing weight and being healthy are great goals, but they need to be realistic and more specific for them to be achievable. Weight loss specialists agree that slow and steady weight loss of about 2-4 pounds per month is the best way to keep the pounds off for good. Rather than focusing on significant weight loss, focus on losing the first five pounds. After you lose your first five pounds, set a new goal to lose five more and so on. Focus on the smaller goals – the stepping stones to your end goal. For example, instead of saying, "I want to lose 50 pounds", try one of these smaller, more specific goals for better health and weight loss- they will assist in getting you to your end goal:

  • "I want to eat less fast food, so I will pack my lunch three times per week instead of eating out."
  • "I will switch from drinking 3 cans of soda per day to 1 can of soda per day."
  • "I will focus on eating smaller portions by eating slower and weighing and measuring all my food."
  • "I will eat healthier by having three servings of vegetables per day."
  • "I will drink at least eight glasses of water per day."

2. Be aware of all or nothing thinking

Taking an all or nothing approach is a common mistake people make when trying to reach their health goals. One common all or nothing thinking trap is labeling foods as either good or bad. For example, "Bread is bad; I can never eat it again." When you restrict or tell yourself you can't have a specific food or food type, it can increase your desire for that food, causing you to crave it more often. This can lead to feelings of deprivation, falling off track, eating large quantities of the food you were restricting, and that never-ending cycle of yo-yo dieting.

Some more examples of all or nothing thinking are:

  • "Either I'm 100% perfect or I've failed and might as well give up."
  • "I ate a terrible lunch today. I blew it for the entire day!"

This type of thinking is unrealistic and doesn't allow for balance and flexibility, which are necessary for long-term success. Instead, replace your thoughts with something more balanced, such as, "Having one piece of chocolate does not ruin my day. I can get back on track with my very next meal." Or, "Making one mistake doesn't mean I've totally failed."

3. Make movement a priority

Increase in physical activity is a great way to encourage and maintain weight loss, and it has many benefits beyond just burning calories. Exercise boosts the production of the chemical serotonin, which is known for regulating your mood. Increased levels of serotonin are associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression, and when we're happier and less stressed, it's much easier to focus on our health goals! Aim for 150 minutes per week of exercise, but, again, be mindful of all or nothing thinking. You don't need to live at the gym or join a high intensity boot camp class to meet your exercise goals. Do something you already enjoy, such as dancing, playing tennis, or try an exercise DVD. You can achieve your exercise goal by taking a brisk 30-minute walk each day.

4. Track your progress

Several studies show that people who keep food journals are more likely to be successful in losing weight and keeping it off. Tracking helps build awareness, which can cut down on mindless eating or consumption of larger than necessary portions and serves as a daily reminder to stay focused on your weight loss goal. For some people, the fact that they must record every bite helps them to make healthier decisions. Exercise can be tracked as well. Wear a pedometer or fit bit and challenge yourself to continually add more steps per day.

By making your resolutions realistic, there is a greater chance that you will keep them throughout the year. Here's to a healthier and happier you in the year 2020!