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Oh, not another weight loss resolution! Here’s the top 10 New Year’s Eve resolutions

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
                                               ~ Zig Ziglar

New Year’s resolutions are a time-honored tradition, often a promise to do something better next year. The British research group ComRes found that the most common New Year’s resolutions include:

  1. Lose Weight (38%)
  2. Exercise More (33%)
  3. Eat more healthfully (32%)
  4. Take a more active approach to health (15%)
  5. Learn a new skill or hobby (15%)
  6. Spend more time on personal wellbeing (12%)
  7. Spend more time with family and friends (12%)
  8. Drink less alcohol (12%)
  9. Stop smoking (9%)
  10. Other (1%)

Another survey found that of those who planned on setting a resolution for the New Year, only 50% were confident that they’d achieve it.

With best intentions, most people set vague goals like “lose weight” or “exercise more.”  And without really thinking about it, they’re setting themselves up for failure. Because without a detailed plan, including time frame, resources, milestones, and support, with best intentions it’s far too easy to get lost. As reported in the Huffington Post, gym membership soars in January but the crowds of “resolutionaries” usually drop off around mid-February, and 60% of gym memberships wind up unused.

And who cares what you weigh, anyway?  Weight is just a number on the scale and doesn’t necessarily reflect your health or your fitness.  Many doctors use BMI (body mass index, using weight relative to your height) to assess a patient’s health status, but BMI doesn’t take into account a person’s bone, muscle, or fat proportions.

But, other numbers do count.  Your energy level, your blood pressure, your blood sugar and blood lipids like triglycerides are all influenced by how much extra fat you carry on your body. Being over-fat can take a toll on your health.

You know “you” and how you feel about your body.  If you’re carrying around extra pounds that make you sluggish and make you feel as if you’re powerless over food, just take an unvarnished look at your typical diet, and now it’s time to try thinking differently.

The idea is to think of your body as your dream job.  The place you love going to every day, the place where you’re always interested, where you’re confident and effective, where you’re feeling as if you make a difference.

Your dream job is where you live a lifestyle that allows you to stay at your desired weight naturally. 

So, instead of “resolutions” and climbing on that diet treadmill again — make YOU your priority.  When I decided that I was sick and tired of being fat, my first priority was to make changes in my foods.  What you eat and drink is highly personal.  When someone asks me for a “diet,” I tell him or her, hey, I don’t give diets, you give me your diet.

Together, we examine how your diet  — your typical foods and beverages – and how the quantities you eat may be keeping you fat.  Then you identify how you’re going to modify it, creating an eating plan that suits your personal tastes, lifestyle (and social life), and your budget.  Sure, you’ll be ditching some foods that keep you fat, but you’ll be finding some alternatives that will make you happy.

A Mediterranean-type eating pattern works well for me, and it might for you too. This whole-foods diet features all kinds of fish, some yogurt and hard cheese, all types of fruits, many vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts, and it is deliciously healthy. Read more here.

Your second priority is to become more active and all activity counts. But, deliberate activity needs to be part of the equation, in addition to getting from here to there.  Daily activities include walking — take stairs, get off the bus one stop early… instead of sitting on the couch, sit on a balance ball and bounce.  Deliberate activity is also known as “exercise” and means including some challenging activity a few times a week to get your heart rate up. Power-walk, dance, hike, or if you’re not able to walk, do armchair exercises.  Buy a resistance band.  And use it, daily.

Before even starting a new diet or fitness program, stop and prioritize your own personal reasons for wanting to lose weight and get in shape.  Is it because you want to look better?  Or improve your health?  Maybe it’s because you’re afraid your kids will inherit your tendency to be overweight, or maybe it’s because you’re worried that your kids (or significant other) won’t respect you if you don’t take control.  Is it because you’re going on vacation and want to look good in a bathing suit?  These are all legitimate reasons for you to change.

What is not legitimate is starting a sentence with, “I want to lose weight,” and not completing it with the word “permanently.”  There’s a big difference in setting a temporary goal and a permanent goal.

There’s a big difference in saying, “I want to lose weight so I can fit into that bathing suit — but then I’ll gain it back.”  I’m sure you really mean, “I want to lose weight so I can fit into that bathing suit — permanently.”

What if you made this resolution? “I’m going for health insurance, and I need to lower my blood pressure by losing weight.  I’ll use a healthy diet and I’ll be physically active daily.  But, once I get that policy issued, I’ll return to my typical habits and I’ll gain all the weight back and ignore my high risk for stroke and heart attack.”

Isn’t that ludicrous?  But so many people do that — and expect that their weight will magically stay the same.

Permanent weight loss and better health isn’t magic, it takes persistence. This year, make YOU your priority.  Success isn’t measured by weight, success is measured by how you feel about what you’re eating and how much you’re moving.

Your ultimate goal is achieved by accomplishing many small goals, such as ditching barbequed or fried and substituting grilled instead; eating more slowly and savoring food (resigning from the speed-eaters club), drinking water instead of regular soda or juice, and walking at least 30 minutes every day. Get that simple resistance band  — use it! It will keep your muscles toned and firm.  Muscle is more metabolically active than fat and will help you lose and maintain your weight loss. Click here for a video for simple resistance band exercises you can do right at home — these will make a huge difference in the way you look and feel.

Then give yourself the rest of your life to maintain your weight loss.  Embrace those new behaviors that make you healthier, feel great, and never “go on a diet” again.  ¡Feliz Nuevo Año!

  • More information: “How Childhood Trauma Affects Health” from “Innovation Hub” at WGBH in Boston at http://blogs.wgbh.org/innovation-hub/2017/7/13/felitti-ace/

    This contains a link to a podcast hosted on SoundCloud, and to information about Vincent Felitti (see quote below).

    Summary: It’s more than what you eat and when. “Adverse Childhood Experience” can lead to a number of illnesses and conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, liver disease, fractures, cancer, and a number of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma.”

    Quote: Vincent Felitti first made the connection between childhood abuse and adult health during an obesity research study he ran in the 1980s. During a routine checkup with one of his patients, she mentioned that the year after she was raped, she gained 105 pounds. Felitti recalled what happened next: “She looked down at the carpet and muttered to herself, ‘Overweight is overlooked. And, that’s the way I needed to be.'”

    • Darla

      I’ve read about this issue with rape victims….and while it is horrible that this could happen to anyone (woman or man), once we wake up about any trauma, we can get support and….never forgetting it….move forward in life. Reasons become excuses. We can choose differently.

      • StillWatching

        Very well put.

  • Teresa Lightfoot

    Your articles are always well researched, written and presented… but I was doubtful that anyone could put a new spin on weight loss. And darned if you didn’t manage to do so! The quote “The idea is to think of your body as your dream job. The place you love going to every day, the place where you’re always interested, where you’re confident and effective, where you’re feeling as if you make a difference.” is such a fresh and positive perspective! Thanks!!

    • Teresa! So nice of you to write. Yes, let’s ditch that “diet” mentality, and Live It!… Healthfully. Feliz Año Nuevo 2018!

  • Anthony Castiglia

    Kudos on a well done article!! Happy and Healthy New Year!!