Are you among the 64% of Americans whose New Year’s resolution dies after the first three weeks? The number one New Year’s resolution is, not surprisingly, to lose weight. So why do so many people quit after the first few weeks?
The most likely reason is that the diet plans people commit to in January are just not sustainable. So what is sustainability, anyways? In simple terms, sustainability is the ability to be maintained at a certain level or time range. Millions of people who have specific weight loss goals do reach that goal; however, what happens after they have lost the weight? Research shows that weight regain after weight loss is an extremely likely outcome. In fact, something like 95% of people who have lost weight will gain it all back, and sometimes even more, within 5 years – essentially meaning, these diets do not work. If you have started a diet that you know you cannot stick to for 6 months, a year, or the rest of your life, then you have set yourself up for failure.
I cannot tell you how many clients I work with that have tried every diet in the book. These individuals have been yo-yo dieting their entire lives – losing 20 pounds, gaining 30 back, losing 25 pounds, gaining 30 back (think Oprah). When I work with these types of clients we immediately work on stopping this kind of behavior, while implementing a lifestyle plan that can be maintained for the long run. The objective is always a sustainable approach that will gradually get them to their goal. Here are some strategies that I use:
- No harsh diets – as a registered dietitian, I don’t believe in restricting people to harsh diets, unless it is medically necessary. Most of my clients just want to feel better and look good naked, so we work together to find the plan that works best for them.
- Do not focus on calories – some individuals do like to track macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein), so we can calculate these numbers based on their approximate needs. This is a more flexible way of meeting nutrition needs and tracking intake without being stuck to a specific calorie number every day.
- Mindfulness – as adults, we oftentimes lose the innate ability to tell when we are really hungry, due to stress, boredom, you name it. When the chocolate cravings hit during these times, be mindful and aware. Really think about what you are needing – it could be a nap, a bath, or a walk with your dog.
- Include the foods you love – If you tell someone they can NEVER eat chocolate again, that is all they are going to want. This is why I never put clients on restrictive diets. Include the foods you love in your overall plan, but be aware of portion sizes and hunger levels.
- Get moving – diet and exercise work the best when implemented together. Get moving in some way. If you are new to exercise start small. Go for walks and start resistance exercise twice a week. Anything to get your blood pumping is great!
Join me in saying no to weight loss resolutions this year. If you feel like you need help, reach out to a registered dietitian to create a sustainable plan that you can implement for the rest of your life. I promise, your body will thank you. Happy New Year!