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New Year's Resolution to Lose Weight? How to Finally Make it Happen

Every year you make the same promise. 12 months later you find yourself in a similar position to the year before. It happens to the best of us, but why?

 

As a personal trainer my job is primarily to help my clients adhere to a healthy, sustainable program. Believe it or not, weight loss is secondary. It's hard, because clients come in wanting to lose weight at record speeds - usually in preparation for the summer or a wedding. I have to help them understand why long term weight loss is so important, and why it's the only approach that makes sense. Realistically speaking we should be losing 1 to 2lbs a week. If you are losing more than that you are probably doing something extreme and unsustainable, or you're just losing water weight.

 

When coming up with your New Years resolution for weight loss here are some tips for keeping it real, adhering to your program, and actually losing weight.

 

Make S.M.A.R.T goals

 

I repeat this tip all the time! Make sustainable, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound goals.

Saying, "I want to lose weight this year," just isn't enough. How much weight? How will you lose it? What are the small but sustainable steps you will take to do so? How will you measure your results? When will you lose the weight by?

 

A better goal would be, "I want to lose approx. 4lbs a month for a total of 40lbs this year by working out 3 days a week for 45mins at our local gym, and cutting soft-drinks and processed food from my diet. I will record my weight and measurements weekly, and will keep a food diary to make sure I am on track."

 

Do Not Drain Your Willpower

 

You hear it a lot, "I just don't have the willpower to resist junk food." Let's make something clear, you have the willpower but you're draining it on excess decision making. The research shows that if you have to make too many decisions in a day you will eventually exhaust your mind into making poorer and poorer decisions as time passes. What does this mean for weight loss?

  1. By leaving junkfood lying around the house you exhaust your mind into deciding not to eat it every time you are confronted with it. If it isn't there you don't have to make that decision, so on the rare occasion you are confronted with junkfood you have the capacity to deal with it.
  2. If you don't plan your meals or have the same meals repeating daily, every time you want to eat you exhaust your brain into trying to come up with a healthy meal. Over time your brain will have less and less capacity to resist 'easy' junkfood. Meal prepping takes the guess work out of eating healthy and allows you to eat healthy foods on autopilot.

Plan for 'Failure'

 

Do not let failure get the best of you. You are not superhuman.

What situations can make you fall off the band wagon and how do you tackle them?

  1. I 'cheated'. "I can't believe I had that piece of cake... my diet is ruined... Clearly I'm not cut out for this... Might as well eat this bag of chips too."
  • First of all, it takes a lot more than one cheat meal to 'wreck your diet'.
  • You can make yourself feel better about it by having a consequence to cheating - e.g. I will do 100 jumping jacks for every additional 100 calories I eat outside of my plan.
  • Trying dessert is different from devouring it. I tell my clients that if it's a special occasion or they are really craving something to not deprive themselves, rather they should "try it, not eat it". Have a bite or two, or share with a friend and don't think twice about it.
  • Record it. If you're 'cheating' at the same time every day, or you're cheating on the same food, or you're cheating when you are doing something specific - maybe there's an underlying reason for it. If you find it hard to follow your diet plan at night, perhaps it's because you feel the need to keep busy. Prepare for this by having health snacks to munch on. If you are constantly craving certain foods visit your doctor to check out your blood pressure and do some blood tests and find alternative foods that can fulfill any nutrient or mineral gaps you find. Finally, make sure you are eating often. Don't skip your healthy meals and healthy snacks, and don't allow yourself to become ravenous. Getting to a point of extreme hunger will result in irrational decisions. You shouldn't feel overwhelmingly full or hungry at any point during the day.

2. Family/friends are visiting. "My family is visiting and we're going to be eating out a lot and I just won't have time to exercise."

 

OR

 

Going on vacation. "I'm going on vacation and we're going to be eating out a lot and I won't have time to exercise"

  • Eating out does not mean you can't eat healthy. Order a salad with chicken. Skip the bread. Have the steak. Skip or share dessert.
  • Get the family on board for a morning or afternoon walk, workout to youtube videos in the privacy of your bedroom, or wakeup earlier than everyone to grab an express workout at the gym. If you're away from your guests for 30minutes it's not a big deal, they will respect you for taking your health seriously... and you never know you just might be their source of inspiration too!
  • If you're on vacation, pick activities that require some exercise. Hiking, canoeing, swimming,  zip lining etc.

If you approach weight loss as though it's a lifetime goal and a journey you will eventually succeed. Taking small consistent steps towards your goals will result in easily attainable progress. It took years to put on the weight, and it will take months if not years to lose it... but aren't you worth it?

 

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