Weight-Loss Solutions for the New Year
New year, new you
Put your stress on the shelf and resolve to focus on you come January 1.
To help you out, here are some experts' tips for turning last year's failed resolution into something lasting for the future.
Make peace with your trigger foods
Old resolution: That's it, no more chocolate—ever!
Banning your favorite treat—whether it's chocolate, soda, lattes, or french fries—is bound to backfire, says Julie Upton, RD, Health.com's resident dietitian: "Dieters will eat it, binge on it, feel bad, and then throw in the towel and revert back to their old eating patterns."
Makeover: "Make peace with your trigger foods," Upton says. "Don't have them at home staring you in the face, but allow yourself to have them once or twice a week."
Rejoice in the lifelong health benefits
Those holiday parties went straight to my hips. I'm going to have to starve myself to undo the damage.
"When somebody says diet, they're thinking deprivation," says Tom Kersting, PhD, author of Losing Weight When Diets Fail. If your weight loss plan feels like a drag, you're going to feel punished and abandon it.
Makeover: Rejoice in the lifelong health benefits you'll be creating instead of getting down about dieting. "I want people to think health and longevity," Kersting says. "Losing weight becomes easy when you invest your mental energy in making positive, healthy changes for yourself."
Set a goal
I am going to lose weight—somehow.
"People often will just set a weight-loss goal, but they don't have a good plan on how to get there," says Donald Hensrud, MD, a preventive medicine and nutrition specialist for
MayoClinic.com. Without a detailed plan, you're likely to go back to previous eating and exercise patterns.
Makeover: Set a goal that is "specific, measurable, realistic, and trackable," Dr. Hensrud says. Walk for 15 minutes three times a week after work, or add aa serving each of fruits and vegetables, he suggests. Focus on changes that you can make a part of your lifestyle seamlessly so you'll be able to sustain them for the long haul.
Start working out at home
Old resolution: I'm signing up for my gym's lifetime membership plan.
Finding a gym you really like is a good start, but simply signing up won't help you lose weight. "Like any plan, you want to be specific," says Gold's Gym Fitness Institute expert Ramona Braganza. "If it's very vague it leaves you too many places to sabotage yourself."
Makeover: Start working out at home or become a member at a gym you like before the New Year. This way, you'll have a plan in place when your resolution kicks in January 1. Planning ahead also allows you to structure your workout based on your gym's offerings. "Pick some classes, find the best trainers, and have some friends join you," Braganza suggests, "and it all falls into place."
Make some basic alterations
I'm going to lose 30 pounds—by March.
Drastic resolutions like this are simply not realistic, says Diana Keuilian, a California–based personal trainer and author of Avoid the Freshman 15. You'll just get discouraged and give up.
Makeover: Make some basic alterations to your lifestyle. "These changes don't all have to happen at once, but changes in what you eat, when you eat it, and how much you move your body will ultimately cause you to lose the weight," Keuilian says. "People who aren't willing to change their lifestyle will never be successful with weight loss."
Have a friend hold you accountable
Old resolution: I can do it all—eat better, lose weight, and start exercising.
This resolution may sound good, but it "is a high bar for most people to achieve," says Melinda M. Manore, PhD, RD, professor of nutrition and exercise sciences at Oregon State University. If your goals are too lofty, you'll have trouble accomplishing them, and you're likely to give up, she says.
Makeover: Focus on one or two areas and team up with a weight-loss companion—a friend, relative, or personal trainer—who will make sure you stick to the plan. "It is much easier to go for a walk every day at 6 a.m. if you know a friend is waiting for you," Manore says.
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