Is Losing Weight Your New Year's Resolution? Success Starts Now with Good Planning
Many people are simply content with the idea that they will begin to lose weight on January 1st, while merrily go on through the holidays indulging without another thought about the weight loss plans ahead.
However, the key to success later, will be how well you plan now. Simply having the idea that you will suddenly cut back on all bad food choices on a certain given day in the future, is setting yourself up for a unrealistic goal, especially without concrete plans on how to carry that through.
Make Realistic Goals
Rather than saying, "I will eat healthy", figure out exactly what that means. Fact is, it may be too difficult to go from a very poor and unhealthy diet, like the standard American diet, (SAD diet) to a very healthy diet. Or, maybe you are capable of, and ready for a major lifestyle change.
Figure out what changes you can live with, or what changes that are simply taking you in the right direction.
Here are some examples:
Instead of saying "I will take cream and sugar out of my coffee", say this, "I will cut back on cream and sugar in my coffee, by reducing it by 1/2 teaspoon every month until I use neither". Why not start that process now?
Or if you say this, "I will switch out grainy, brown bread instead of white bread", but cannot stand the taste of grainy whole wheat bread", maybe you can instead say "I will replace white bread with 60 percent whole wheat bread." This way, the change to the much healthier bread will be gradual. then, plan to go to the very healthy bread in another three months or so, when your taste has adjusted.
If you can't stand water, stating I will drink 8 ounces of water, 8 times per day, might not work. Instead say, "I will drink a 6 ounces of flavored water before each meal"
Start going through your cabinets, freezer and fridge now
If your kitchen cabinets are full of unhealthy choices, what will happen when you wake up on January first? Are you going to suddenly rush out to the grocery store?
Start getting rid of the bad foods now. If you can afford to, start giving the food away.
Having unhealthy choices around will always be a temptation.
Plan now what you will do with unhealthy gifts that come your way
Most often, when people give us treats, I simply send them with my husband the next day to place out by the coffee pot at his workplace. I don't keep them around as I don't need or want the temptation.
However, a few days ago, my husband came home with a box of After Eights - part of an early gift from a supplier. The box was gone in two days. Failures happen. I move on but I remember this incident. I forgive myself, but I don't forget.
Will you be getting gifts of treats like this for Christmas? Can you tell people of your plans to lose weight? Can you tell them that you would appreciate them not giving you anything that would sabotage your plans? Those who respect you will admire your plans, be happy for you and encourage you. Pay attention to who is encouraging and who is sabotaging.
Start grocery shopping now
Start exchanging your pantry with healthier choices now and getting used to the idea of how to eat healthier, with the idea that you will go full tilt in the new year.
Learn new healthier recipes now
There are so many healthy recipes to be discovered. Start searching for them now, pick out some that you think you would like, and start trying out the new recipes.
My husband and I like to go to the produce section of the huge superstores and picking out a strange fruit or vegetable that we have never tried before. Then, we go home, look up recipes that use it and try something completely new. We both love to experiment and create too.
Rid yourself of the idea that you will go back to a bad diet when your weight is lost
If you continually think that you will go back to the foods you think you love when the weight is lost, you will feel like you are depriving yourself. Instead, realize that you are about to enter a new, sustainable lifestyle that have you learning about new, delicious foods.
Rid your mind of the idea that healthy tastes bad
That is a myth. Once you get into eating healthy foods regularly, you will find that it tastes better than unhealthy food. You will begin to crave the healthy foods, and steer away from greasy, fatty, salty laden or sugar laden foods.
You can find recipes for healthy pizza, banana bread, baked potatoes, burgers, even candy. It's a learning curve, but it's an exciting one.
Consider making healthy cooking your brand new hobby
Personally, I can attest to the fact that this is a wonderful hobby. There are always new foods to try and experiment with, new cooking methods, as well as new gadgets to try out. I recently saw a cool vegetable spiraling tool that I might put on my Christmas list. The last item purchased was a mandolin - to slice vegetables thinly and make 'chips'.
Over the holidays, my husband and I plan on spending a few days making and canning our own ketchup and tomato sauce - a whole new adventure. It is really never ending.
This new hobby can be something you do alone, if you live alone, or with a friend, a your partner, or the whole family. Teaching children the healthy way to cook and bake is something you will never regret and an amazing opportunity to bond, daily, or however much your schedule allows.
Set yourself up now to be inspired daily.
Do what you need to do to keep up the inspiration. Joining a facebook group, or signing up for emails on healthy eating, is a good way to get daily reminders and stay inspired.
Think ahead about how you will handle eating out or eating at friends
Undoubtedly, you will find yourself with invitations to eat out or eat at at friend's. You don't have to decide now how to handle it, but start by just giving it some thought.
Much will depend on the frequency. If business lunches are a regular part of your schedule, you may want to decide to keep eating healthy at these lunches on a regular basis. Often, you can look up the menu online and decide ahead what your choice will be. I know that if I fail to do this, and I wind up at a restaurant feeling famished, I almost always make a bad, unhealthy choice.
Or, you may decide that since eating out at a restaurant or at friend's is an occasional thing, you may want to decide to eat whatever looks good on the menu, or eat whatever is put on the table.
Decide now that if you do fail, it will be a fleeting moment
It is quite possibly that you will have a moment of weakness. Decide now, that if that happens, you will move forward with your plans. Figure out how you will get back in the game, without guilt or shame. Getting back in the game, means getting your head back in the game. What does that look like for you? Think about it now, write it down now. (More on that later) Take a look at your goals, which you can write down. Look at new healthy recipes to try. Take an extra long walk.
Think about a cheat day
Some like to have a cheat day. I can see merit to this. If you really, in the beginning, feel deprived, then pick a cheat date. Or decide ahead that a cheat day will be inevitable. With a cheat day, if you see someone eating fries with gravy, or miss your peanut butter chocolate ice cream, and those are your weakness, you can say to yourself, "I can't eat that today or tomorrow, but I will eat that on my cheat day".
If you keep experimenting with healthy recipes, you may find that the healthier version of fries, perhaps an oven-baked version with mushroom gravy, or another version of homemade peanut butter chocolate ice cream, made with coconut milk, sweetened with agave and dark chocolate, will satisfy your taste buds going forward.
Think about how to fit exercise into your life
What can you live with? What you enjoy?
Do you like the gym or just tolerate it? If you just tolerate it, that will not be an effective long-term plan that will work. If you are sociable, and you haven't tried it, you might like it for that reason. It can be good that way, to talk to people about fitness goals and things of that nature.
Can you do a trial week-long membership now to check itout?
Figure out what kind of physical activity you enjoy. Walking, skating, dancing, volleyball, ping pong? Try some new activities if you are unsure. Try them now, so that you will know later which ones will work.
Consider a Fitbit or other tracking device that will keep you accountable. Maybe that would be something for your Christmas list.
Realistically, think about long-term and short-term goals
An unrealistic goal will be to lose 60 pounds in 2 months. Unrealistic goals set us up for failure.
A realistic goal is 2-3 pounds a week. However, many times, if you have a lot of weight to lose, you will lose more at the beginning of your journey. Do not expect that to continue for long. As long as you are still heading in the right direction, you are doing well.
Picture yourself what you will look like in June or September of November of the next year, or however long it will take to reach your goal weight. What kind of clothing items will you want to purchase to replace your clothes that no longer fit. Will you reward yourself monthly? Keep your eye on the prize and think long term, keeping realistic goals.
Write down your goals
Why not drop into your local dollar store and pick up a brand new, attractive notebook to use for your new healthier eating plan and other weight loss goals?
Write down daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Here are some examples:
Daily goals - Write down your calorie count for each day (1200 calories?) and your fitness goal (a 20 minute walk?)
Leave room, if you want to journal any notes. Like "Well done!" or "15 minute walk, feet got sore. Try for 20 minutes tomorrow"
Weekly goals - A weekly goal might look like this. "Learn to cook one new vegetable in a healthy way." or "Lose 3 pounds" or "Look into the dance class at the gym". Anything that keeps your mind looking forward is good.
Monthly goal - Perhaps your monthly goal might be "Add 3 pounds of weights to my weight lifting repertoire" or "Start drinking water without added flavoring"
You can also use it as a journal to record successes or make changes to the plan, down the road, as you adapt. And while it may seem old-fashioned to write it down in a book, there are psychological reasons why this method works.
First off, having a nice notebook handy, within your view, is a constant reminder that you have goals that you want to achieve. Keep it visible and take a look at it regularly. Maybe every Saturday evening, or even daily to start.
Why write down your plans?
It's actually proven to be a highly effective to reach your goals.
One graduating class at Harvard was asked one question about their future goals - "Have you set written goals and created a plan for their attainment?"
84% had set no goals
13% of the class had set written goals but had no concrete plans
3% of the class had written goals and concrete plans
Ten years later, the 13 percent who had set goals with no plans were making double the money than those who had set no goals. On top of that, the 3 percent who had both written goals and plans, were making a whopping ten times the rest of the class.
Fitness tracking websites
A lot of people also like fitness tracking programs that are found on the web.
This study study, says that writing down is more effective for memory though.
Perhaps a mix of written goals combined with a web-based program would be highly effective. Check out Fitday or My Fitness Pal are websites where you can input information, like weight, fitness activities, foods and keep track of your progress and your goals.
Get your head in the game now
If you get your head into the game now, you will likely be able to fend off some of the upcoming temptations of the Christmas season too. A huge array of appetizers and salty snacks, followed by enormous feasts, followed by desserts, with indulging in calorie-laden beverages are part of our unhealthy, cultural norms. Being aware and mindful now. Start viewing and recognizing these customs as unhealthy now. You will likely decide to choose more wisely during the festive season too.
Do you have plans to lose weight as a New Year's Resolution? Please share your ideas and other tips that you think might work or you have discovered to be effective.