- Understand why resolutions set you up to fail
- What happens when you don’t make weight loss new year’s resolutions?
- Learn a new method
How long have you been making weight loss new year’s resolutions?
After 10 years of weight loss new year’s resolutions I finally decided to try a new approach.
It’s now been 18 years since I made weight loss new year’s resolutions. And they’ve been the healthiest, happiest and most effective years of my life.
Weight loss new year’s resolutions aren’t a solution
My method of losing weight was always absolute. Stop this. Start that. The result? My weight loss new year’s resolutions were a shock to my system and hard to keep up long term. This lead to 10 years of restarting my diet, over and over again.
I actually made resolutions all year round. Whenever I broke my rules I’d time my new diet with a new day. When the new day was the beginning of a new week or a new month my launch date felt more official. But kicking off a new diet on December 31st was the Big Kahuna. Knowing the same opportunity wouldn’t come along for another 365 days added extra incentive to exercise willpower.
I didn’t realize that:
- starting over
all work against you reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.
My new year’s resolution was no resolutions
One year my new year’s resolution was to have no resolutions. Having no rules was an amazing feeling. And much more effective than trying to take a huge leap from my regular routine. Now I realize this decision sparked a change in mindset. It meant:
- trying my best right now; the only time you can really do anything (vs. focusing on all the rules I’d stick to “tomorrow”)
- I wasn’t preoccupied wanting things I couldn’t have (like I was with rules) because nothing was off limits
- I never felt deprived or guilty (willpower was no longer a focus)
- I could go with the flow in any situation (vs. trapped by absolutes)
- I focused on long-term and healthy lifestyle choices (vs. a short-term diet)
Getting rid of regulations also freed my mind. It gave me the flexibility to figure out what worked for me. Soon I lost weight. The process of trial and error allowed me to discover I could actually eat the foods I’d blacklisted for years. For example, when you eat dessert at a friend’s house, like everyone else around the table, you’re less likely to go home, crave something sweet and end up overeating.
Life without rules gave me more time to think about my interests. Getting excited about life beyond weight loss also helped me lose weight!
Why new year’s resolutions don’t work
It’s easier to change your behaviour when you understand:
- why you do certain things
- how they set you up to fail
- what will help you succeed
When I look back on that decade of making weight loss resolutions, whether it was for the next day, next week, next month or the next year, I realize that my “do” and “don’t” list was like a security blanket. They felt like a guarantee. Writing out what I was going to stop or start doing eased my anxiety. Plans for dramatic change made me feel hopeful. But now I realize that feeling of hope was always short lived. Writing out weight loss new year’s resolutions – or absolutes to follow any day of the year – is a band aid solution.
Instead of trying to ease your anxiety by planning big changes for tomorrow, make one small change today. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Add a piece of fruit to your lunch. Make a natural salad dressing, like oil and vinegar, rather than using a store-bought version that’s full of preservatives and artificial ingredients. Then you’ll have real reasons to feel good today. Besides, eating isn’t so exact that you need black and white rules!
We’re living creatures thrown into all sorts of exciting situations; sleepovers, first dates, parties, going to a friend’s house for lunch, taking a holiday, celebrating a milestone at work … and infinite other happy occasions. We need to say Yes! to all these things and roll with the food options available. Life is a whole lot of fun when you’re not policing every move you make. You don’t need to follow rules! When you understand being flexible (by eating that dessert with friends, for example) helps you reach and maintain goals, it’s easier to try this new approach.
Improvement vs new year’s resolutions
Rather than focusing on absolutes, try making a list of New Year’s Goals you’d like to work toward. What are 3 things you’d like to do a bit better over the course of the new year?
- Healthy exercise goals:
Instead of making a leap from no exercise to the exact amount you think you should do, try exercising a bit more each month. Just five more minutes each week or even each month, adds up quickly.
- Healthy eating goals:
Maybe you want to aim for more balanced meals. That could mean putting 2% milk in your cereal instead of skim. Or if your fat intake is more than what’s recommended in the Eatwell Guide, try making one of your options at dinner a little more lean. Like when you order fries ask for half the regular amount of gravy.
What’s one thing you can do today that will bring you closer to your goals?
When I got better at focusing on small, positive changes vs. absolutes I realized that making my next choice one I felt good about today was more effective than making a list of all the dramatic changes I wanted to make tomorrow. Small changes build momentum and spark big changes. When you keep moving forward, even with baby steps, it also makes you feel good.
Stop trying to make your life better with the flip of a switch. Life is a work-in-progress. It’s about transitioning from old habits to new ones. Make small changes toward goals instead of making resolutions. Then change is natural and lasting. Being flexible helps you reach and more importantly maintain goals.
Every Breath You Take by The Police
This song reminds me of how my weight loss new year’s resolutions set me up to fail. Focusing on every move you take, makes you get lost in the details. I reached a healthy weight when I stopped fixating on rules and focused on doing things just a bit healthier each day.
Sharing what I learned makes those 10 years worth it
How many years have you been making weight loss new year’s resolutions?