So many people approach the New Year with diet resolutions that it often becomes a joke, with the long-term fitness crowd viewing their gyms and classes full of “resolutioners” as a temporary annoyance before those folks give up on their goals mid-January and head back to their previous habits. Yes, it’s a risk that you could turn into one of those temporary fitness folks, but you can still create New Year’s weight loss resolution goals that can turn into long-term healthy habits.
The New Year works as a turning point because it’s a big end-marker that comes directly after the holidays. It’s time to get back to work, and Jan 1 (or post-weekend January 4 if you prefer) is a milestone that many can embrace. What’s important is that that you do get started, or restarted. If it takes the New Year to make it happen, by all means take hold of it!
First Month Weigh Loss Tips
In order to make your New Year’s body weight optimization goals a long term success, here are some tips to help you succeed long past the first month:
- Know why you want to lose weight and what you expect your trimmer self to do for you or how it will make you feel. Will you go faster in your peak summer event? Feel more confident and healthier? Help to ward off chronic illness? What kind of long term, meaningful payoff will be gained? What would make you motivated to maintain that form once you get there? Write it down and post it somewhere you’ll see it often. Knowing why you want to do something and what the payoffs are help to continually renew that motivation when challenges and setbacks present.
- Seek close support. Rally with your family, partner, kids, and friends to commit to a healthier lifestyle. And don’t just talk about it, really do it. It might mean an uncomfortable conversation, but make it happen and line up your support.
- Make and follow a fitness or event plan, either on your own or with a mentor or coach. Having something to follow helps you plan the workouts into your calendar and makes them less negotiable. If you have a busy schedule and a full family, the scheduling aspect becomes even more important. Write down what the most common causes of you missing a workout or eating poorly and take steps to remedy them. Leaving your environment as is can be a recipe for future sabotage of your goals. (See Shirzad Chamine’s ideas about positive intelligence and how to defeat your internal saboteurs.
- Get on a fitness/food tracker such as MyFitnessPal or LifeSum. Find a well-reviewed one that makes entering daily food and exercise extremely easy and allows you to connect with others who are working on eating well, too. It also teaches you about portion size and with experience, teaches you to estimate the composition and calories in something before you eat it. If you skip a day, get back to it right away. If you eat more than you planned and are dreading entering the foods, estimate and move on. Sticking with it is important.
- Join a CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) program and receive a box of fresh produce regularly (usually bi-weekly). Having a full box of veggies and fruit to work with several times a month forces kitchen nutrition sense and creativity. Stir-fries become a standard friend. Though the cost may seem like more than you’d normally spend on produce, it will likely save you money in the long run by keeping you eating at home more often.
- Speaking of eating at home more often, cutting down on meals out can save both calories and money as well as improve the quality of foods you eat. The more you eat out, the more you stand to gain (or lose, depending on how you look at it) from cutting back. Packing your own lunch is a particularly easy way to cut back. If you love eating out, reward yourself with a night out at an interval that makes sense relative to your goals. If you eat out two to three nights per week currently, cut back to one night and consider it a treat for the rest of the week. You’ll still need to eat in moderation when out, but the cut-back will make a difference.
- Pass up the Starbucks. I know you don’t want to hear it, and it’s painful for me as well, but if you are a mocha addict, realize that even the Tall (8 oz), non-fat, no-whip version has 190 calories. Kick that up to 310 calories for the whole-milk version with whipped cream. If you have a five mocha per-week habit that you cut to two, you’ll save 570 calories a week and over $40 a month.
- Just as important as any other item on the list, consider professional help. Many dieticians and counselors specialize in weight-loss for all levels of athletes and have good success. They provide accountability and supply an additional high level of support while teaching the necessary tools to build habits. Weight-loss support can seem expensive upfront, but when you average it over a number of months, the money you save in going out to eat can sometimes cover it alone.
- And finally, realize that set-backs are certain to happen and that you’ll need to re-motivate to get back on track. When they do happen, be prepared to take stock of where you’ve reached so far and move ahead. Talk to yourself like you would a friend. You would never tell a friend that all hope is lost and you may as well skip the next workout, too. Be nice but be firm. The aim is to create healthier habits that make smart eating and working out the more natural choices for you. Prepare your actions and environment to support that, and your path from New Year’s Resolution to full-time resolute health and fitness.
Kendra Wenzel and Wenzel Coaching offer endurance training coaching and supporting services such as nutrition packages to help athletes reach their goals in cycling, running and triathlon. www.wenzelcoaching.com