Happy New Year! Did you make New Years Resolutions? Many people do. There is something about a New Year that makes people want to get a fresh start. In fact, about 45% of Americans make a New Year’s resolution but statistics report only about 8% of those who do are successful in achieving their goal. Resolutions of self improvement are the most common with weight loss topping the list.

Why is change so hard? Humans are creatures of habit and by nature we seek comfort. Change is uncomfortable but you have to move beyond your comfort zone to grow, develop new skills and thrive.

Resolutions do not pop into our heads on December 31st. We have been wanting and/or needing a change well before that. The newness of the year stands to remind us of those desires and feels like a chance to have a “do over” (as our kid say).

So resolution or not, it does not have to be a New Year to change your choices and change your life!! You have the power inside you to do that any day you choose. Dream BIG and then take action. Chinese Philosopher Lau Tzu said “The Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”.

stick to your new years resolutionsSo start stepping…

First set your intention. Be clear and honest with yourself as to what you want and why.

Set a small achievable goal or a big one that you can break down into small steps or goals.

Make these smaller goals very specific. “I want to lose weight” is too vague. “I will make time to exercise for at least 30 minutes, seven days this week” is more specific.

Write down what needs to happen to reach your goal and make a plan with a calendar. “In order to exercise 30 minutes every day this week I must …”

Tell others about your goal and plans and enlist their help. You may need support. If they are not willing to support or help you then tell them to get out of your way!

Have a Plan B as a backup for those days when your plans are derailed due to circumstances beyond your control because life happens! For example, you had planned to work out at the gym today but the kids are home because school is closed for snow. What will you do instead? Be creative and resourceful. Sledding with the kids can be a work out and fun for all.

Frequently and regularly reexamine your plan or roadmap to your goal. Ask yourself, “is what I am doing working?” If not, modify your plan. Many people abandon their goal at this point because they feel discouraged or are impatient with slow results. Don’t quit, change your approach.

Any new goal (or New Year’s Resolution), no matter what it is, that seems overwhelmingly HUGE and unattainable can be more manageable mentally in small steps with a plan. Having said that, let’s turn our attention briefly to weight loss as a goal since that is a common one at this time of the year.

Unfortunately, extra weight is common. According to the CDC 30% of adults and 17% of US children and teens are obese. Extra pounds not only make our jeans too tight but is also a major risk factor in a multitude of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer just to name a few. But on the upside research shows us that just losing 5-10% of your body weight significantly reduces your health risk profile.

health coach nashville diet nutritionLosing weight is hard. Keeping weight off is even more difficult. However, both are possible for ALL who are determined and motivated and have a plan. The proof is in the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). It is an ongoing investigation of successful weight loss and maintenance from Brown Medical School which began in 1994. There are over 10,000 participants who have lost at least 30lbs and kept it off for at least one year. The average participant has lost 66lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years!

So what’s the secret? There is no secret, no magic, no pill, no gimmick and no special “diet”. It takes commitment and daily focus on your goal as previously discussed.

Here area few of my top recommendations for successful, sustainable weight loss:

  • You must exercise. Dietary change alone is not enough. Aim for 300 minutes of moderate activity or 150 minutes of vigorous a week. Work up to this if you are currently sedentary. Anything is better than nothing.
  • Keep a food diary. It keeps you accountable. Log everything that goes in your mouth. This is easier than it used to be with technology because “there is an app for that”. My Fitness Pal and Lose It are just two of the many out there.
  • Be honest with yourself. Measure or weigh your food. We all underestimate our proportions.
  • Don’t drink your calories! Water is best and you need to drink 8-10 glasses of water daily.
  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily. Fill half of your plate with vegetables. The fresher the better. “Vegetables” added to chips don’t count!
  • Shop the perimeter of the supermarket. Avoid processed foods. Read the small print of ingredient labels instead of the advertising on the front of the package.
  • Chose real food that grew from the earth or walked or swam on the earth.
  • Eat a breakfast daily that includes protein.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation causes hormonal changes that affect appetite.
  • Be patient. You did not gain weight overnight so don’t expect to lose it that fast either. Slow and steady wins the race.
  • If you need extra incentive consider signing up for an online commitment contract at www.stickK.com where you set your goal and the stakes if you fail…..it is an interesting research based concept developed by Yale University economists.
  • Believe in yourself because “whether you think you can or you can’t …your right!”

So set a goal. Keep it in focus. Keep moving forward. Make this the best year ever… bring it on!