Choose to Lose in 2012

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

In just a few days, the New Year will be here. Your favorite jeans or pants suddenly aren’t as easy to button as they were just a few weeks ago. Many of us will once again vow to achieve lasting weight loss in a healthy, safe way.

But what does it take to succeed?

As a dietitian who is currently at a healthy weight, I’ve been told that I can’t understand what it’s like to be overweight. Well, the forty pounds I gained in college and eventually lost did give me some experience. I don’t have all the answers for everyone – personally or professionally; however, I can share what I learned along the way:

  • Find enthusiasm within you, not from the calendar. Don’t plan to lose weight just to make a New Year’s Resolution. Do your research, invest some time into planning, and step forward when you are mentally and physically ready. My wake up call came in the spring one year after college graduation. I can’t explain it. I just decided it was time for a change. You too will know when the time is right.
  • Know why you want to lose weight. Losing weight just because your spouse or partner wants you to usually leads to resentment and frustration. Choose to lose for health reasons, to fit into a favorite suit, or to be able to ride bikes with your children. For me, I wanted to have more energy, look better in clothes and be a good example for my future clients. Everyone’s motivator is unique – I challenge you to find yours.
  • Post your reasons for weight loss, along with a picture of when you were thin, on your refrigerator. A visual can be very motivating. Especially when you head to the fridge for that late night snack.
  • Plan for obstacles and decide, in writing, how you will face them. Brainstorm potential challenges and ideas for ways to handle them. Co-workers tasty treats, cravings for your favorite high-calorie foods and celebrations will be a lifelong challenge. You need a plan in place.
  • Pay yourself for your success. Put $1.00 aside each day you participate in 30-60 minutes of physical activity. When you reach your first goal, buy yourself something that isn’t food related such as a new handbag, exercise equipment, or a new clothing item in a smaller size!
  • Aim for long-term results. Set a realistic weight loss goal for three to six months. If you would like to lose one pound per week, then set a goal of 12 pounds in three months, realizing you may have some small fluctuations along the way. I started my focus on weight loss in 1998. It took me three years to reach my goal, with some ups and downs along the way, but the weight stayed off.
  • Schedule time for yourself. The most common reason people give up is that they don’t have the time. If weight loss is important to you, schedule the steps necessary for success—exercise, meal planning, food journaling—into your daily routine.
  • Write it down. Yes, everything you put in your mouth should go on paper (or your favorite food journal website or app)—candy, gum, beverages, the scoop of cookie dough. I’ve done this off and on over the years and it’s always insightful. Track what you eat and you will instantly notice habits you can change.
  • Don’t let friends or family get in your way. Do this for yourself, not others. Tell people in your life how important losing weight is to you and that you have made a commitment. You may even convince someone to join you.
  •  Find a good support system. Whether in person or over the internet, seek out others who are working towards the same goals as you. This will give you someone to turn to for motivation when times are tough.
  •  Make lifestyle changes that you can live with for the rest of your life. If you love cheese and eliminate it, you may end up binge eating. Be realistic and choose to eat your favorite food less often. If you hate spin classes, choose a different form of exercise. Over time, I’ve learned that I prefer to exercise outdoors. I hate the gym. So I choose activities that I can do outside like tennis and running.
  •  Never, never, ever give up! No one is perfect. We all make mistakes and have set backs. Even the dietitian. You will fall along the way at some point. I promise. Get back on your feet and realize tomorrow is a new day.

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