Ahhh. We are approaching a new year, which means everyone is making the standard resolution to lose weight. I made that resolution every year for probably the better part of a decade and, so many, the resolution was promptly forgotten by February with nothing to show for my efforts. Three and a half years ago, something in me snapped. It wasn’t the first day of the year. It wasn’t the first day of a new month, it wasn’t even the first day of a week. It was just time. I’m not a nutritionist or a certified personal trainer or anything fancy. I’m just a girl that got fed up and made some changes for the better. I lost seventy pounds and have kept it off for more than two years. I’ve made lifestyle changes that have introduced a new me to myself and I think the new me kind of rocks!
Since I am not a professional, when I see people on Facebook post their goals for the week that usually include “eat healthier” or “workout,” I kind of giggle. The problem with our resolutions aren’t that they are unrealistic (ok, maybe sometimes they are… lol), we just don’t really have a clue as to how to make it happen. It’s not a weight loss thing or an eat healthy thing. It’s an execution thing. Really. You could substitute the goal of weight loss with anything out there, including saving more money or get a better job. It’s got to do with planning, execution and discipline. So with that, I have my top ten tips to making your resolution of losing weight or getting healthy actually happen:
- Pick a goal and don’t make it numerical. There will be so many factors that can go wrong. Weight loss looks more like a mountain range, not the downhill slalom. I joke that I lost my weight 0.2 lbs at a time. It took for EVER. I wanted to stop a few times when my only goal was “losing 50 pounds,” but when I changed my goal to “run a 5K” or “run a half-marathon,” everything started to get easier and the weight came off while I wasn’t paying attention. Remember the watched pot theory? Yep, it doesn’t boil. Maybe your goal can be to get off one of your medications by the end of the year. Maybe your goal will be to finish a 5K race after you complete a couch to 5K program. There are so many ways you can measure success that has nothing to do with the bathroom scale.
- Make a freaking plan. Seriously. A real-life, honest-to-goodness PLAN. This should include any diet changes and exercise you plan to incorporate into your year. When you decide on the type of exercise and make an appointment in your calendar. Don’t move it! This is set in stone! If you merely put “gym” or “work out” on your daily to do list, you run the risk of making it all the way to bedtime and then realizing you never made time to do it. If your goal is to go for a walk at lunchtime at work, grab a bag and pack it. Make sure you have everything you need the night before and even go so far as to put it in your car the night before so you don’t leave it at the front door on your way out.
- Pace yourself! If you haven’t worked out in years, you’re going to need to work up to this whole “working out” thing. You can’t expect to be successful if you jump right in and go for it every day of the week. You will burn yourself out and possibly injure yourself. There are so many things you can do, but always incorporate a rest day into your week, make sure you are stretching in some meaningful way (maybe try out a new yoga class!), don’t do strength training two days in a row and remember to have fun!
- Try out new things and learn what it is that you like. If you are a social butterfly, join a running group or a cross-fit class. If you are a solitary being, maybe videos or a solitary walk is a good way to go for you. The point is, do something that is different from what you have done in the past. Mix it up and see what is out there! I spent an entire year buying a Groupon deal every month to learn how to do something new. The possibilities are endless and can include yoga, crossfit, horseback riding, rock climbing, paddle boarding, boxing, kayaking, aerial circus work and ballroom dancing. You just won’t know what you enjoy until you try it!
- Grab a cup and start drinking. The number one thing I did to jumpstart my weight loss was ditching all caloric beverages and ALL sodas. It doesn’t matter if it’s diet soda or not. Get rid of it! Your body is worth more than all of those chemicals! Grab a cup and start drinking water. If you need to jazz up the flavor, experiment by adding stuff into it. We all know about the usual lemons and limes, but how about a slice of orange or a slice of cucumber? Those are some of my favorites! The point is, drink water!
- If you bite it, write it! You can use an app like MyFitnessPal or you can grab a cheap little spiral notebook. The point is, you need to write everything down that goes in your mouth. This is the first step to finding where your challenges are. For example, are you finding yourself at the snack machine at the office every day at 3pm? Maybe the puny salad you eat for lunch every day just isn’t cutting it. Or maybe you don’t even realize that the additions to your coffee every morning are a difference maker in the calorie counting realm.
- Get a scale. No, not the kind you have in your bathroom, silly. Get a food scale. Don’t leave your diet up to portion-size roulette. It’s so easy to just assume that the chicken breast is good for you, but my husband (the Chef) has seen chicken breasts as big as a pound! You do the math when a portion size is based on 4 ounces.
- Don’t outlaw any food or food group. It’s too hard to maintain forever and that’s what this is all about, right? You want to find a way of eating that you are still ok following in a year. I had a rule when I was in the “serious weight loss” phase of my journey – if I wanted it, I ate it. That being said, I only allowed myself two bites of it and then I threw the rest away, but I did not deny myself anything. It took a lot of discipline the first few times I threw away a half-eaten cupcake, but now it’s second nature.
- Identify obstacles. The most successful people I know made out an entire eating plan for a week, including snacks, wrote it down, shopped once and prepped for the entire week. The one thing that will separate good results from great is looking at the week ahead and identifying the challenges and finding ways to still stick to your plan. For example, I know that my family all runs on Tuesday nights and we don’t get home until after 8:30. We don’t have time to eat before the run and it’s a dietary minefield at any restaurant. Our solution is to have a pot of homemade soup on the stove to stay on low while we run and then make up sandwiches to go with it.
- Get enough rest. Start making yourself a priority and go to bed at a decent hour. When you are tired, you tend to gravitate to the sugar and caffeine to get yourself going in the morning, which starts you off on the wrong foot and sets up your day to be full of dumb mistakes. I found that once I lost some weight and started moving regularly, I didn’t need caffeine or sugar to be the most energetic person in the room!
So, there it is. It’s not rocket science, but sometimes we forget that we just have to stop doing the stuff that got us where we don’t want to be. It’s completely possible to make 2015 the best year ever!!