New Year’s: Time to Rethink those Lofty Resolutions

A new year is upon us and taking time to review the past year and set new resolutions can help us march forward to better health, wealth and relationships. Unfortunately, it seems that many people now opt out of this “tradition” to improve. Why? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that sometimes we set ourselves up for failure.  It may be that we are setting our sights too high and ultimately become discouraged when progress is slow. But why would we get discouraged by progress…even if it is slow? Especially when it comes to our weight. We didn’t gain it overnight (thank goodness!) we should expect that losing it will take some time too.

What are your expectations?

Face it! Most of us will never look like a super model or a professional athlete. Everyone has a different shape and body structure. We can’t all be thin, but we can all be healthy. Strive to be your best you and keep in mind that very few of us can look like the models we see in magazines.

Goals

A great place to start is by changing our attitude about weight loss. For a more positive attitude, focus on the healthy behaviors that lead to weight loss rather than the weight loss itself. Your goals should be based on the things you can directly control rather than amount of weight to lose in a week.   Next, redefine your definition of success by setting realistic, attainable goals. The National Institutes of Health defines weight loss and maintenance success as a loss of 10% from where you start. For example, if you are 200 pounds, 200 X .10 = 20 pounds, then 20 pounds lost and maintained for at least 1 year would be a success.

Measuring Success

For many, changing our perspective on weight includes changing our relationship with the dreaded scale. Here is a suggestion: Try skipping your daily routine with the scale. Weighing yourself too frequently can lead to feelings of failure. It is amazing how much pressure we seem to place on the digits that pop up on that thing! If you believe you can’t quite do without the scale, try weighing only once a week.  Other tools to measure weight loss include body composition tests, waist circumference measurements and how your clothes feel on your body. Success can be measured not just by tools but also by the way you feel, activities you can now do, and being able to enjoy a more active and healthy lifestyle. Having many tools to measure progress is important for motivation and self-esteem. Different approaches work for different people. Find the tools that work for you and use them.

Where you are going? What do you want to achieve?

Before you embark on a long journey, you must know where you want to go before you turn on the engine of the car. In weight loss, you must know what you want to achieve before you embark upon life-changing programs. Goals serve the purpose of letting you know what your destination is. When you have a goal in mind, you can develop a plan for reaching it.  Goals can:

  • Help you make a commitment to behavior change
  • Help you stay focused on the direction you want to head
  • Be especially helpful if you write them down and put them in places where you will see them several times a day such as next to your toothbrush, in the medicine cabinet, next to your contacts…somewhere you will see them every day.

While setting goals may sound easy, lofty goals can set you up for failure. Keep your weight-related goals realistic.  Your other goals should support your main goal and will be ones that you have control over. These include behaviors like how much water you drink or how often you exercise. You can’t directly influence how much weight you will lose this week, because you may retain fluid one day or hit a plateau. So a goal of “Lose 3 pounds this week” can set you up to fail. However, you can control the behaviors that lead to weight loss (for example, how many calories you eat, drink, and spend with physical activities). Your goals, therefore, should be based on behaviors- the things you can directly control.

If you are in need of help to get you started, don’t forget that there are many resources out there to help you. Seek the guidance of a physician, dietitian, mental health provider, or surgeon to help you find the most effective tools for your weight loss.

 

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