Now that the new year is upon us, the weight-loss resolutions are all around. I’d like to give my two (or three) cents about these ever-so-common goals.
Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of weight loss resolutions based around a specific number. I like resolutions that I know are going to be fully based on the effort I put in each day, not left up to hormonal fluctuations, water consumption, stress, and a flimsy number on the scale. However, this more pertains to getting rid of those last 10-20 vanity pounds since that is my current situation. I can see how if you were 50, 75, 100 pounds over weight, setting a reasonable weight loss goal for the year could be advantageous. But, I think it would be most beneficial if it were a sub-goal underneath the goal of living a healthier lifestyle. Hitting your target weight does not ensure health, happiness, and lasting weight loss. It is the journey you take for that weight loss, and subsequently the habits you create, that determine whether you will obtain these attributes or not. Habits that support these goals are:
- Calories In, Calories Out. There is no other way around it, you must know what you are eating and how much you are burning in order to ensure a daily calorie deficit that will result in weight loss. Free websites like MyFitnessPal or SparkPeople are easy to use, have supportive online communities, and keep you within healthy limits. Once you have reached your healthy weight range following your own hunger and fullness cues with a diet of real food combined with regular exercise you love should maintain the weight.
- Not Smoking Its pretty commonplace knowledge how bad smoking can be for you, no need for a big explanation. If you do smoke, quit, no excuses. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
- Buying Organic I know it’s expensive, but aim for all organic dairy and at least organic on the Dirty Dozen. If you can’t do that, then reduce your dairy intake and when buying fruits and vegetables look for varieties with thick rinds- bananas, oranges, squash, etc and any of the 12 least contaminated. Rework your budget, coupon, or do whatever possible to find the money for organic, it makes a difference. I’ll be posting more about this since I am in an even tougher situation with very few organic choices, and the ones that are here in Alaska are double the cost of the lower 48.
- Eat a Wide Variety of Foods The more variety in your diet the more nutrients you will be getting. Don’t fall into the “baked-chicken-steamed-broccoli-brown-rice-every-night-diet”! You are not only setting yourself up for failure because of how boring and bland that menu is, but are also limiting the nutrients you are taking in. This goes beyond fruits and veggies to meat and grains as well. When trying something new, find a recipe that has flavors you are already familiar with and enjoy. So say you wanted to try eggplant for the first time, and you love mexican food, then find a recipe like Mexican Eggplant Casserole for the big purple plant’s debute dinner.
- Break a Sweat Often Notice I did not say “every day” or push a certain activity, like running, over another. A quote I heard a long time ago and have always recommended is this “The best exercise is the exercise you love to do”. If you love doing it, you will make time for it and look forward to it. This may be dancing, running, yoga, pilates, martial arts, a team sport like basketball, rock climbing, and the list could go on and on. Try new activities often to see if they work for you and when you do find something you love, do it!
- Relax and Refocus Everyone gets so busy and overwhelmed as the year goes on, make an effort to always find time to release stress and refocus. Stress builds up and can actually cause physical manifestations that are detrimental to your health, like ulcers and a depressed immune system. Also take a little time to check in with yourself and ensure you are working for an objective that aligns with your values and is something you are passionate about. This could be at your job, in your family and parenting style, in your fitness goals, or what ever other passions you have. Don’t continue trudging on in a direction that does not excite you or worse is actually against your own values. This may mean big changes, but know that when you are true to yourself, you will be at your best in every aspect of your life.
As I’ve already said, I’m not a fan of making the focus of a weight loss goal a specific number on the scale. I have various reasons behind my decision to not tie my happiness to the scale or focus on any individual body part but I never did stipulate that these were focused on those trying to lose those last few pounds. These vanity pounds can be any where from an extra 5-20 pounds. They are referred to as vanity pounds because your body is healthy and happy at a certain set point, and (especially for women) this includes extra fat stores. So when you want to lose those extra soft spots it’s purely for physical appearance not for health reasons. Nothing wrong with that, but so many people obsess over this and do not allow themselves happiness if their goals are not met. This obsession is seen at it’s extremes in those with eating disorders from anorexia nervosa, to bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. The reasons why someone develops an eating disorder have a very wide range but in the end it’s the number on the scale and the individual’s relationship to food that haunt them. This is my main reason for not wanting to recommend focusing on an unrealistic number on the scale. My personal solution is aiming for a healthy weight range, and putting my focus on performance goals rather than appearance goals in the gym.
The Opportunistic Money Makers
As soon as the ball dropped in NYC the weight loss product commercials began. There are so many products out there promising to be the magic fix or to make cutting calories easier. They won’t. From pills promising no-effort weight loss (but could potentially cause damage to various organ systems) or exercise machines promising to spot reduce fat(not possible), the products companies use to take advantage of your new year’s resolutions run the gamut of false promises. And maybe a product like Slim-fast or 100-calorie cardboard will work, but only because it causes you to lower your daily calorie intake, which you can do with an accurate food log while still enjoying in moderation the real food you love. The problem with these products is that they introduce unwanted chemicals into your system. Chemicals that can wreak havoc on your metabolism and thwart your weight loss goals. Chemicals you would not ingest if you were eating whole foods prepared properly in your own (or a trustworthy) kitchen.
After reading this post you should see that there are no reasons for these products; honest calorie counting combined with healthy habits and a dose of reality and appreciation when viewing your body are all you need. Use the money you would have wasted on these products to upgrade grocery purchases to organic, invest in quality vitamin and mineral supplements, or put it towards a reward that gives you joy and relaxation for all your hard work. *If you are truly stuck with more weight than deemed healthy, talk to your healthcare provider. In rare cases there could be a true disorder or side effect of medication causing you to retain the weight. But again, a product out there promising a quick fix won’t work*
What is your opinion of weight loss resolutions? What other tips and healthy habits might you add?