Weight loss is repeatedly a common New Year’s Resolution. Structured surveys or polls of your friends, family, and coworkers will prove that. Overweight and obesity are prevalent, slimness and tight defined abs are over-emphasized, and holiday season overindulge push us to the edge. No wonder many look at the new year with hope that it’s the year they will weigh that magical number.
Yet, weight loss efforts are less successful than we like. I find that people fall into one or all of these traps when they set their mind to lose weight. Here my three do’s and don’t.
One: don’t choose weight loss as THE resolution
I did mean that. Deciding to lose weight is a problem by itself. Weight loss is a result of a series of actions you can do. You can’t schedule to weight loss on your calender. Weight loss by itself is vague.
Do: this year, resolve to do actions that will result in weight loss. Here are some examples:
- I”ll pack a snack from home instead of grabbing a candy bar and soda from the vending machine. The snack will be an apple or pear with 1/8 cup raw almonds.
- When I go out for burgers, instead of fries, I’ll order a side salad, even if it costs extra.
- Instead of eating out 7 nights a week, I’ll cook on Sunday and Wednesday nights enough food to have 4 dinners at home each week.
- I’ll hit the gym after work on Monday, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
- Instead of my daily large mocha, I’ll order a small skim latte and sprinkle some chocolate powder on top
Two: don’t count on will-power
That just sets you up for failure. Not that you lack will-power, but it, alone, is not enough.
Will-power is abstract and vulnerable. Subject it to stress, exhaustion, and lack of time, and your guard will be down. You can say no to cookies sitting in a beautiful glass jar on your counter 9 times, but the 10th time you pass by it, you will give in. You won’t only eat one, you’ll eat three because you have glorified those cookies in your attempt to resist them.
Do: set up your environment so that it supports your goal. If don’t want to eat a candy bar in the afternoon, pack that healthy snack for afternoon hunger pangs. Don’t stash candy in your office drawer or purse. Plan your meals and go grocery shopping. Don’t go to buffets. Mingle and socialize away from the food at parties. And don’t buy those extra-large family size snack bags. And PLEASE, get rid of that beautiful glass cookies jar or hide it way in the back in your pantry
Three: Don’t be harsh on yourself
While maxing our self-restraint capabilities to eliminate certain foods and eat others, we tend to be harsh, mean, and judgmental of ourselves. We eliminate foods we love. We drain our bodies with daily exhausting workouts. We even punish ourselves by working out longer and harder when we eat more than we intend do. And when that happens, we call ourselves bad. I’ve heard “I’ve been bad, I ate cookies for dinner last night” way too many times. And being harsh only sabotages weight loss because it doesn’t allow opportunities for change. It creates negative emotions and attitudes towards food and our bodies. It attacks our confidence and generates so much burden too hard to carry through the journey of weight loss.
Do: be kind on yourself
Instead of being judgmental, be a compassionate self-observer. It doesn’t mean letting go. Compassionate self-observation is understanding the reasons behind your action, why you gravitated towards a certain food, what was the situation like, how did the eating experience make you feel, and what you can do next time to prevent a negative experience from happening again.
When you’re harsh, you say you’re bad and force yourself to workout an extra hour in the gym to burn evil cookie calories. With compassionate self-observation, you’ll realize that you’ve been working hard all day, had your lunch at 12 and didn’t eat a snack because you forgot it on your kitchen counter, you attended a spin class at 5:30, and by the time you got home at 7, your blood sugar was low and you were exhausted. And you didn’t have a cooked meal waiting for you. You weren’t bad. You drained all your resources. The first cookie gave you a rush of sugar you needed. By the time you realized you had 5 cookies, you felt sick, bloated, and mad. With compassionate self-observation, you become an inquirer searching for solutions to improve future experiences. You might pack your snack in your purse the night before, set the slow cooker before you leave work, or even skip the gym altogether to go home early and cook. You might decide that you simply need to rest!
If you can relate to one or all of these scenarios, maybe it’s time to do something different. Change how you approach weight loss this year.
Do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always got