According to a recent Marist poll, 44 percent of Americans are making a new year’s resolution in 2015. The most common resolution – cited by 13 percent of respondents – was weight loss. This isn’t really surprising, as smoking cessation, weight loss and getting more exercise are probably the most common new year’s resolutions every year. Other common resolutions include saving money, eating healthier, spending more time with family and just generally being a better person.
Of course, everybody knows that new year’s resolutions can notoriously fall flat within a few weeks. The Marist poll stated that 41 percent of those surveyed didn’t keep their resolutions from 2014 for even part of the year. So how can a person stick to a weight loss resolution? Well, it takes dedication, planning and perseverance.
1. Be Honest With Yourself
Perhaps the most important aspect of your weight loss resolution involves honesty. Why exactly have you gained weight? Do you eat out every day? Do you spend too much time watching TV? Maybe you’re just under too much stress all the time. Maybe your significant other eats poorly and it causes you to do the same. The realities can be harsh; however, honestly analyzing the causes of your weight will allow you to set specific goals that are easier to follow through with. Identify the problem, seek out information about the solutions, then…
2. Set Specific and Realistic Goals
Too often, a weight loss resolution will sound something like “I’m going to eat better” or “I’m going to get more exercise.” Goals like these are simply too broad to be useful. Goals that are more specific will actually produce results. They should sound something more like “I’m going to limit fast food to once a week,” “I’m going to run for 20 minutes a day,” or “I’m going to cut down on salt.”
Also, be sure that your weight loss resolution is realistic. If you’ve never tried losing weight before, it’s just not effective to try losing 100 pounds or fitting into your jeans from high school. Goals like these can easily cause someone to get discouraged and quit. Instead, resolve to lose 10 pounds, accomplish your goal, and use that momentum to go further.
3. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
Write your resolution down! Put your plans into your calendar or to-do list. Schedule time for your goals to be accomplished. You could even try writing notes to yourself. Whatever strategies you try, just remember that a weight loss resolution will not be accomplished if it’s just lingering in the back of your mind. In fact, not writing your resolution down can cause discouragement because it will just be nagging at you instead of being in your schedule, causing the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re putting your plans into action.
4. Avoid Crash Diets
There are two schools of thought on this. Some studies have shown that crash diets, fad diets and “cleanses” that produce quick weight loss results actually aren’t that bad. However, most nutritionists would agree that a slow, balanced approach to weight loss is preferable. Crash diets can deprive you of vitamins and nutrients that our body needs, and there’s no guarantee that the weight won’t come right back just as quickly as it left. Besides, a new year’s weight loss resolution is supposed to involve methodically changing poor habits – not finding the quickest fix to a problem.
5. Frame Your Resolution In a Different Way
If you really want to stick to your resolution, try making it about others instead of yourself. Rather than saying “I want to get in shape so I look better,” say something like “I want to get in shape so I can play with my kids longer.”
Try measuring your progress in units other than pounds. Even if you’re not losing as much weight as you’d hoped, you still might be making improvements in body fat percentage, sleep quality, waist circumference or stress management.
Also, instead of focusing on what you’re losing, consider what you’re gaining. Rather than thinking “I’m going to lose 20 pounds,” consider the fact that you’re going to feel healthier, look fitter and have more confidence.
6. Ask For Help
This might be the number one weight loss resolution killer – doing it all by yourself. Find other people who are resolving to lose weight, talk to each other and support each other. Nothing is more helpful than having some encouragement, reenforcement and advice from other people going through the same thing. If you want to get really serious, consider hiring a personal trainer or seeing a nutritionist.
7. Don’t Get Discouraged
It’s almost a guarantee that you won’t see immediate results. There are definitely going to be times when you want to give up altogether. However, you must stick with your plan and trust that results will eventually start to appear. Again, take baby steps and don’t set your goals unrealistically high. Make it fun if you can – try healthy foods you’ve never tried before or find a friend to work out with.
8. Reward Yourself
This goes hand in hand with avoiding discouragement. Feel free to celebrate and feel good about even your smallest accomplishments. If you know that you really need to lose weight, even just beginning the process can be worthy of a pat on the back. Again, setting attainable goals will help give you that sense of accomplishment needed to stick with your resolution all year.