When the New Year begins, many people make a decision to make weight loss a priority when they should really focus on health. There is a multi-billion dollar weight loss industry that works hard to capitalize on the weight loss resolutions that people make. One can see this through the multitude of commercials that are shown touting the latest revolutionary weight loss program or product aimed at those who overindulged during the holiday season and who are now looking to let go of some extra weight.
But New Year resolutions to lose weight and the diets that follow are pointless. For the overwhelming majority of people that try them, they do not work. As people resolve to change how they eat, add exercise and lose unwanted pounds, they clear out their cupboards, pantries and refrigerators of junk foods and replace them with foods that the marketing experts on Fifth Avenue have touted as “healthy”. These same people start the latest weight loss program with optimism and motivation, only to find themselves cheating on their new diet and abandoning it all together within a few weeks. Americans spend more than $33 billion dollars a year on weight loss products and programs, and yet obesity is on the rise and we are gaining weight at an unprecedented speed.
Have you ever fallen into this pattern of dieting failure? How can you finally get off of the New Year diet roller coaster and achieve real, lasting weight loss?
- Let go of the idea of dieting! In the US, up to 80% of girls have been on a diet by the time they are 10 years old. And at any given time 45 million Americans are doing some type of diet. Instead of using a diet program, that is meant to be a temporary way of eating, it is important to completely transform your food lifestyle for permanent results. People who make this type of change to how they eat are experiencing much more success with weight loss and are healthier and happier as a result.
- Focus on improving your health. What many fail to realize is that you can lose weight and continue to be unhealthy. But when you change your way of eating permanently, add in movement and exercise daily, work to reduce stress, and get healthy amounts of sleep, not only will your health improve, but your body will begin losing the excess weight.
- Make gradual changes to eating habits. It is not uncommon for people to clear out their kitchens, and stock up on new food that fits their newest diet. A few weeks later, they are stuck with a kitchen full of food that they won’t eat after they have stopped following their new diet. Eliminate the worst food offenders in your kitchen right away such as sugary snacks, boxed meals, frozen dinners and soft drinks. A gradual shift in paying more attention to the quality of the food you are consuming over a period of three to six months is much less of a shock to the system and allows you to make those changes permanent. This many not be possible if you have a specific health condition that requires a faster change, but for most people, this gradual shift in eating works well.
- Stop eating highly processed “health” foods that taste awful! We have fallen into this false belief that in order for food to be healthy it must taste bad. This belief couldn’t be further from the truth! If you are eating food that is not appealing to your taste buds, then you will be much less likely to continue eating it. There are so many recipes available for nutrient rich, healthy, real foods that taste amazing. You can eat food that tastes great, improve your health and lose weight too! Eating processed foods in general is a bad idea. Most of these foods have been stripped of vital nutrients, and have added chemical preservatives, colorings and flavorings.
- Focus on whole foods! Moving away from processed foods and incorporating whole, unprocessed foods is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. This will mean primarily shopping the perimeter of the grocery store for fresh, whole foods, keeping your focus on fresh produce, meat, dairy, eggs, legumes and whole grains. Make it a priority to discover quick and easy recipes that will allow you to create healthy and tasty meals that you will want to eat again.
- Allow yourself to be less than perfect! As you begin to change how you are eating, your goal should be to eat 85-95% real, nutrient rich, whole foods. It is unrealistic to expect yourself to eat 100% perfectly all of the time. Having a healthy food lifestyle is about making sure that the majority of the food that you are consuming is whole, fresh food. But it is okay to have a small percentage of your food that is not. The trick is to give yourself permission to allow this small amount of food that is not as healthy as the whole foods that comprise the majority of your meals. And give yourself permission to let go of any guilt that you may associate with eating a small amount of these foods. The stress of the guilt that you feel is more detrimental to your health than consuming small amounts of processed foods, so take some pressure off of yourself and let it go!
This year, make your focus on health rather than weight loss. As you improve your health and feel better about yourself, the weight will begin to fall off. But the overall improvements that you will be making with your health will transform your entire life for the better. Here’s to a happy and healthy new you!