Many people use the New Year to make resolutions to change their lives: find a new job, quit smoking, lose weight and so on. But a few weeks into January, the majority of people who made resolutions have given up.
Why the high failure rate? The main reasons are that most resolutions are not realistic and are seen as ‘an extra thing’ to think about during the day, rather than being a natural part of it. This applies very much to weight loss. Who has not at some time followed a raw food, cabbage soup or low-carb diet rigidly for two weeks, only to resort to old habits at the end of it and watch in despair as the pounds creep back? Healthy, long-term weight loss (and maintenance) is about small, realistic changes that become a way of life.
I decided to interview registered dietician Jennifer Ross, who specializes in weight loss and disordered eating, as well as being a personal trainer, answers questions about how to shed the pounds and make healthy eating a lifestyle.
And by the way, there is no need to wait for January 1 to put this advice into action. Every day of the year is a good day to resolve to get healthy.
Jennifer Ross (JR): Practice listening to your body by eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. But never skip a meal. Focus on the foods your body loves (whether you realize it or not), like whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins; then eat treats in moderation - guilt free.
Don't let yourself get hung up on “forbidden foods". The less healthy foods tend to lose their power when you replace guilt with common sense and balance.
JR: Cutting calories is the most effective way to lose weight, while regular physical activity is the most effective way to maintain weight loss. A combination is certainly best.
Thirty minutes of combined physical activity most days of the week is recommended. Aim to sweat for 60 minutes a week by getting your heart rate up, and shoot for a muscle-building activity once or twice a week. Even brisk walking can do wonders for your weight loss efforts and overall health.
Depending on your current fitness level and end goal, start out easy (10-15 minutes) and work up from there (30 minutes or more).
JR: Experts are finally agreeing - moderation and balance is indeed the key. The point is not to avoid fats or carbohydrates or any other single food, but to choose the healthier forms of each when possible. Filling up on high-fiber foods and lean proteins can be a great way to avoid overeating.
Unsaturated fats (those liquid at room temperature) like olive oil, fish, avocados and nuts give you the oils you need to stay healthy. Refined or processed carbohydrates and sugars like chips and candy bars have little nutritional value. So save them for special occasions, when you aren't overly hungry and likely to overeat.
JR: Research shows that one of the single most effective ways to lose weight is to keep a food record. Simply being aware of what you are putting in your body is helpful in avoiding the needless splurges or thoughtless snacks.
If your partner or best friend is overweight, statistically you are more likely to struggle with your weight as well; so embark on your journey to better health together and help support each other when one of you can't get off the couch.
JR: In general, when attempting to lose weight, try to make gradual changes you are willing to live with for the rest of your life. If you despise oatmeal, and are never going to learn to enjoy it, try another high-fiber breakfast.
The key is to be realistic and even have fun with it. Set measurable and attainable goals for yourself and don't be afraid to ask a friend or professional for support.
Joe: Thank you for spending time to interview with us today. I wish you all the best for the coming New Year. Cheers!
Didn't meet your goals today? Don't give up; everyone has their "off" days. Tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to try again, with revised goals if necessary.