EverydayHealth.com asked us their 10 frequently asked motivation questions to meeting 2011 weight loss resolutions. Here are our answers…
1) We all make New Year’s resolutions, and often these resolutions involve weight loss or fitness goals. But many of us quickly lose traction and don’t achieve our goals. What are the psychological and emotional reasons behind these failures?
When we fail it’s usually because we make unrealistic goals for ourselves which are very hard to attain and we put ourselves on stringent, hard-core programs to get there. We think if we don’t have a so-called perfect diet and exercise regime, then we won’t be successful. We become frustrated and let down when we wander off our strict diet or exercise plan (even slightly!), feeling like we’ve failed. Then we throw in the towel and give up on our resolutions.
2) What is the biggest mistake people make when making a resolution?
They set unrealistic goals for themselves and think that in order to achieve their goal, they have to take extreme measures. Rather than taking realistic small steps, they try to overhaul their habits all at once and leave no room for flexibility.
Are you setting yourself up for failure when you make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or get fit?
Not at all. When you make specific attainable resolutions, you set yourself up for success. You set yourself up for failure if you make unrealistic resolutions—such as “I am going to lose 20 pounds this month.” This is not rational and as you realize early in the month that you may not meet your goal, you feel discouraged and ultimately end up throwing in the towel.
3) How do you set reasonable, healthy expectations when you resolve to lose weight or shape up at this time of year or any other time of year?
First, to stick to your resolution, you must have a plan. Your plan should have specific objectives so that you can feel a sense of accomplishment on a daily basis. For example, your ultimate goal may be weight loss. However, keep in mind that it is the baby steps (objectives) that ultimately will help you to meet your goal. One of your objectives may be to limit your carbohydrate portions to the size of your fist at each meal. You should have a minimum of four to five objectives, so that you are able to meet at least some of them every day—this way you will feel a sense of accomplishment on a daily basis. For example, another goal may be to try to exercise 3 days a week for 20 minutes each time. You can feel a sense of accomplishment on a regular basis each time after you exercise. And after a couple weeks, make a goal to try to exercise for 25 minutes each time, and then 30 minutes a couple weeks later. If you are unable to meet your initial goals, then keep trying and don’t give up. Realize that we all have challenges, and the more we keep trying, the more likely we are to succeed.
4) What kind of support should you seek to help you achieve your goals?
Turn to the people who support you the most to encourage you in your efforts. It could be a friend, a spouse, a family member or a colleague. Ask for their support and perhaps get a work out buddy who will keep you motivated. If your husband knows you are trying to lose weight, maybe he will join in with you, rather than eating ice cream in front of you while you sip on hot tea. Or if you need a little help or encouragement with exercise, you may want to hire a personal trainer, coach or therapist to assist you in your journey.
Or think about something that motivates you. Some people are motivated when they listen to their favorite music. If you’re like this, it may pay off to invest in an ipod so you can listen to your favorite music when you exercise.
5) What are three things you can do to improve your chances of success before you make a healthy lifestyle change?
To improve your chances of success before making a healthy lifestyle change, first, keep a diary of your objectives. On a daily basis, put a check next to each objective that you meet. This way you will feel rewarded for your hard work. Also, record what you eat so that you can be held accountable for the food you consume.
Second, remember AIM FOR PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION! And third, focus on what you will eat, not what you won’t. Think positively about the foods that you can eat more of to be healthier. Instead of saying, “I won’t eat cake”, say, “I will eat a piece of fruit every day for a snack.” Be specific with your objectives so that you can know exactly whether or not you achieved them.
6) Why is it so hard to keep the weight off after a diet, and what can you do to maintain weight loss?
After we lose weight, our body requires fewer calories than it did since it now is smaller. Smaller people need fewer calories to maintain their weight than bigger people. After you’ve lost weight, it’s important to readjust your calorie and your exercise routine to reflect your new body. The good news is that when you weigh less, it’s easier to exercise and be active since it requires less effort to move a smaller body.
7) Can you rearrange your life in any way to make it easier to avoid diet temptations?
Definitely. “Out of sight, out of mind” certainly holds true as we’ve seen time and again with our clients. So keep tempting foods out of your house or at least hidden behind healthier choices. Keep washed and cut up vegetables in Tupperware on the top shelf of the refrigerator so that you can grab them when you are hungry rather than something else that is not as healthy.
8) What advice do you have for people who just don’t like to exercise or who avoid it for other reasons?
Focus on moving more. If traditional exercise like running isn’t appealing to you, try speed walking, dance classes or jump-roping. Moving more for a period of time is the key. And stick with it, the better you become at it, the more you’ll enjoy it. Lastly, try to find a work-out partner who you enjoy spending time with. They can help to motivate you while they can also help the time to pass faster.
9) When you’re making a resolution to improve your health, who should you recruit to be on your wellness team?
First, recruit your friends and family as their support and motivation will be really important on days when you feel like giving up. If you feel like you really need guidance as to which foods to eat then a registered dietitian (RD) can really assist you in your eating journey. Or if you really feel lost when it comes to exercise and getting in shape, you may want to hire a qualified personal trainer for a session or two to start you out on the right foot.
10) It’s easy to make excuses when you’re juggling work and family responsibilities. How can you make time for your resolutions in a hectic schedule?
Make your resolution your priority. Schedule time for exercise and for meal planning and write it in on your calendar so each day a specific amount of time is dedicated to meeting your goals. If you know that you always have extra obligations after work, schedule your exercise in the morning or during your lunch hour. Good luck and here’s to healthy and happy 2011!