People get tons of messages at year’s end that making resolutions to lose weight is a worthwhile endeavor. If the commercials, the talk show hosts, and the advertised new diets are believed, making a resolution to lose weight during the new year will guarantee success. Making a New Year’s Resolution implies sincere intent and motivation to “make it really happen this time”. If there’s ever a time to look to the past, it’s when thinking about making another resolution to lose weight at the start of a new year.
This is the time to ask:
- Have I made this resolution before?
- How many times have I made this New Year’s resolution?
- Has it really worked to make New Year’s resolutions about weight?
If resolutions about weight have been made before and another is being made now, then it probably means the strategy hasn’t been successful. If it hasn’t been successful, why wasn’t it?
Sometimes people will rationalize by saying, “Yea, but I did lose weight when I made the resolution. It’s just that I regained it.” Success with weight is not about how much weight is lost, it’s about losing the weight and not regaining it. It’s about managing weight well.
The obvious secret that no one is revealing, is that New Year’s resolutions to lose weight don’t work. Why? Here are some reasons:
Why New Year’s Resolutions About Weight Don’t Work
- Most New Year’s resolutions about weight are about the weight itself (“I’m going to lose weight” “I’m going to lose 20 pounds” “I’m going to lose enough weight to fit into my wedding dress”) rather than the behaviors that will produce the weight loss such as exercise, eating nutritiously, or reducing portions.
- Most resolutions about weight are followed by diets that don’t work. Usually these are diets with quirky names that require the dieter to follow rules that can’t be followed for the rest of their lives. It’s no wonder that 90% of dieting attempts fail.
- When deadlines are set for losing weight such as when a person expects to lose weight for an event like a wedding, the focus is temporary and so will be the weight loss.
What Kind of New Year’s Resolutions Work?
It is good to take stock of our lives periodically and the New Year provides a reminder to do just that. However, the more rigid and overwhelming the resolutions are, the more likely it will be that the goal will never be reached only to be readdressed again the next year. It’s time to stop spinning wheels and approach life in ways that are positive, long-lasting (even if not fast), and logical. Here are some tips:
- Set goals about behaviors, not numbers (e.g. “I want to work on increasing my exercise” “I want to take a nutrition course to learn to eat more nutritiously” “I want to focus on increasing the amount of veggies and fruit that I eat”).
- Set specific but small goals that are gradually increased. For example, “I want to add one more day of exercise each week until I reach at least six days per week.” “I will make a list of different activities that I want to try for exercise and I will try a different one each week.”
- Forget about perfection. Perfectionism has no place in managing weight. Actually, it leads to loss of control and failure. Instead, be ready to learn, accept set backs, but continue on. It’s about a lifetime of managing weight successfully not about yo-yo dieting for the rest of your life.
So, what’s the best resolution to set this New Year? It’s the one that says, “I resolve not to set anymore useless resolutions that don’t work.”
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