Yes — it is that time of year again. No, I don’t mean time to make New Year’s resolutions. I’m referring to the couple of weeks after you’ve made those resolutions, when you suddenly realize that you aren’t doing as well as you had hoped at achieving your goals. Some people honor their resolutions until Feb. 1, some go a week or two into January, but for most of us, diminished resolve and motivation are the norm just a few days into the new year.
What to do? Are the odds of succeeding so stacked against us that we should resolve to not make any more New Year’s resolutions? No. There is help available.
Let’s take a look at weight loss — one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. If you don’t want to sabotage your weight-loss goal, follow this seven-step approach.
Step 1: Set a specific goal that includes the amount of weight you want to lose and a timeline for losing it — “I will lose 20 pounds by June 1,” for example. If you say that you just want to lose some weight, how will you measure your success?
Make sure that your goal is realistic, unless you enjoy setting yourself up for failure. A healthful, achievable weight loss is an average of 1 to 2 pounds each week.
Step 2: Write down your goal on an index card and put it where you will see it every day. You may want to write your goal on a bookmark and stick it in the book you are reading. If you spend a lot of time at the computer, put your index card somewhere on your screen. Whenever you see your index card during the day, read it out loud to reconfirm your goal.
Step 3: Take a look at your eating patterns. Most people are aware of the changes they should make, but let’s face it, making those changes can be hard. Do you eat three meals a day? Do you eat a lot of meals away from home? Do you drink soda every day?
If you cut down on your intake by 500 calories a day without making any other changes, this would lead to a 1 pound weight loss in a week. Do you drink a couple of 20-ounce bottles of regular soda a day? There is your 500 calories.
I’ll talk more about this in future columns.
Step 4: Keep track of what you eat and drink. There is a reason commercial weight loss programs encourage this behavior — it maintains your awareness and helps keeps you accountable. Get yourself a little notebook and write down everything that you eat and drink, including snacks.
Step 5: Allow yourself to be human. Sometimes you will feel really strong and can avoid any temptation that comes along. Other times you are going to easily give in. This is normal and human. You haven’t blown it — keep going.
It is OK to have a treat once in a while. Strict diets rarely work and often lead to a sense of deprivation. Instead, decide that you will follow a more healthful overall eating plan.
Step 6: Keep a record of what you do each day to work toward your goal. Did you take a walk despite the cold wind? Did you eat a healthful breakfast? Did you drink water when you really wanted soda? Did you pass up the drive-through on the way home even though you really, really wanted a burger? Identify your successes.
Step 7: Think of weight loss in a positive light, not as deprivation. It isn’t the weight loss itself that motivates us. It is the positive results of the weight loss — looking better in a size smaller clothing, being able to walk up a set of stairs without getting winded and being healthier by having lower blood pressure.
If you follow these steps there is no reason you can’t be successful at losing weight in 2011.
Georgia Clark-Albert is a registered dietitian who lives in Athens, Maine. She writes a regular column on diet and nutrition and welcomes questions and comments from readers. E-mail her at GeorgiaMaineMSRDCDE@gmail.com or post questions online at www.bangordailynews.com.