Monday Author: Susanne Skinner
Everyone begins the new year with good intentions. Weight loss, quitting smoking and saving money top the list of resolutions. But by far the most popular is the commitment to drop those extra pounds.
Sadly, those resolutions taper off by February and are abandoned by March. According to studies, eight out of ten new year’s resolutions fail. Why? Because changing behavior is hard and most people go about it the wrong way.
January empowers rethinking eating habits and the decision to lose weight. It’s a fresh start; entered into with conviction. We will do the thing we say we will do!
Making A Resolution
Pick one resolution and commit to it. Making too many changes at once usually means none will succeed long term. The most difficult part of modifying a behavior is finding the motivation do actually do it.
My weight loss motivation came in the form of my annual physical. Like many women over fifty, I gained weight and my blood pressure and cholesterol rose to unhealthy levels. My doctor offered me a choice: lose at least twenty pounds or fill two prescriptions.
Contrary to what you might think, it was hard decision. I did not want to begin taking medication when I had a clear alternative. On the other hand, weight loss feels daunting, and I am not a gym person. Nevertheless, I agreed to it because it was the right answer. She gave me ninety days to prove my intent.
A Long Journey Begins with a Single Step
The first thing I did was admit I cannot not lose weight on my own. I need a support group that challenges me and holds me accountable.
In the spirit of full disclosure, my office building had a gym on the second floor. I worked on the sixth floor and membership was a company benefit. In four years, I never set foot in there. I stand before you without shame—I simply don’t do gyms.
The next step was a gift that came in two parts. I learned my insurance covered the cost of an approved weight loss plan and my building was starting a Weight Watchers at Work program. I added my name to the sign-up sheet.
A Game Changer
There are many good weight-loss programs. I did not research any of them; but only because a serendipitous option appeared and I took it. I went in prepared to follow the program; fear of failure is a strong motivator
Once I met our group leader, I had no choice! Nancy was take-no-prisoners coach who made short work of objections, fears and myths. No silver bullets, shortcuts or excuses. She made it clear success comes from doing the work.
When I mentioned my aversion to gyms, she offered the following observation,“You seem to have two legs and two feet. Buy a good pair of shoes and start walking.”
That was ten years ago, and the start of a walking program I continue to this day. Spoiler alert—I lost 30 pounds and have (mostly) kept it off. Covid quarantine challenges me but I stay within three pounds of the goal I set the day I began the program.
Do Diets Work?
In a word, no. Dieting puts the focus on food and nothing else. The word diet is a mental barrier for me because I love to cook and eat. Approaching weight loss as a diet is not sustainable. It speaks to deprivation and lacks the positive relationship with food needed for success.
Diets are designed for short-term results. They rarely focus on changing eating habits, developing a positive mental focus or encouraging lifestyle modifications.
The minute you think you have to give up everything, especially things you love, you set yourself up to fail. When the emphasis is on less, it manifests itself in barriers and binges. I aimed for more. More fruits, vegetables and fiber and much more water.
I’m not a water drinker but I discovered that thirst often disguises itself as hunger. Nancy suggested water as the first response. Wait twenty minutes and if you still feel hungry then eat something. This is a formula I continue to practice.
Eat Better, Move More
I did not give up anything. I learned moderation by understanding the caloric value of food, and the effects of carbs, sodium, fiber and sugar. Balancing these against a daily intake number helped me change what I ate, when I ate and how I ate.
Exercise of any kind is essential to weight loss. I began a daily walking regimen that worked its way into a group of friends doing three to five miles every day. We traded tips, and recipes, and offered each other encouragement. Together we lost weight and discovered the side benefit of reduced stress.
There is no one size fits all, and everyone’s body reacts differently. Two people can follow the rules of a program and their results will vary. My focus included putting quality over quantity and a plan for healthy snacking.
New Year, New You
Weight loss is personal. Everyone’s journey is unique—there is no one right way or formula.
The secret to weight loss is that there is no secret. Healthy eating is a lifestyle choice. No matter what program you chose, once new habits become ingrained it is easier to lose weight and keep it off.
Empty calories offer no nutritional benefit. Smaller portions with foods rich in fiber are lower in calories and better for you. Some foods become treats instead of weekly standbys and a few get kicked to the curb. Eventually these changes will become regular behavior.
If weight loss is your January resolution, I send encouragement and support as you begin your journey. This month’s choices are next month’s results. You’ve got this.