January is full of lofty goals and resolutions, especially for those wanting to lose weight or start an exercise regimen. These good intentions only go so far, and most often people are making justifications by the second week, and many even sooner. We start off with an image of great accomplishment in our mind, and start off strong, but slowly lose motivation and give up. Setting our sights too high and failing to break these goals into small "bite size" pieces is a large part of why many of us fail to fulfill our resolutions. Here are six helpful tips to help stick to your weight-loss goals, and shed those unwanted pounds without getting off track or discouraged.
- Set realistic workout goals. Instead of vowing to hit the gym for an hour every day, take an honest look at your schedule. Figure out what time you can honestly schedule to work out and stick with it. If you are planning to work out at the gym, see if there are set times for a class that interests you and put it on your calendar. If you plan to work out at home, you should treat it just the same and have a set time that will be designated for your workout. Start with three days a week and work your way up from there; that way, you have room to grow instead of starting big and feeling disappointed when you don’t meet your expectations.
- Make your goals attainable. Starting with a small weight-loss goal will help you stay motivated. Start with a goal of five pounds and celebrate when you reach it. The celebration will help motivate you for the next five pounds. When you set goals that are too big, you get discouraged because that big number is always looming over you. Even if you want to lose 50 pounds, break it down into smaller milestones so that you can have something to be happy about while you are getting to the larger goal.
- Make small dietary changes. You don’t have to swear off sweets for the rest of your life to lose weight. All this will do is make you crabby and hate the positive changes you are trying to make. Resenting your resolution will not help you keep it, so start with small dietary changes. Portion control is a good place to start. Let's consider the size of your fist as one serving, so if you are having chicken, rice and broccoli for dinner and ice cream for dessert, have one serving of each. Notice I didn’t say to skip dessert altogether! Cutting the calories by cutting portions will help you lose weight without sacrificing all the things you enjoy. Another easy way to cut calories is to drink water before you eat a meal and in place of soft drinks, juices or teas. The water can help you feel less hungry and will also replace the empty calories of a soda.
- Find a friend who has the same goals. It can be hard to avoid temptations when faced with them, but having a friend who is in the same boat with help you stick with your plan. It also gives you someone who will hold you accountable for your goals. Accountability can be one of the best motivators because you are more likely to try not to let someone else down.
- Don’t weigh yourself every day. It is a bad idea to get on a scale too often. Our weight naturally fluctuates throughout the day and weighing too often can be discouraging. Try weighing yourself once a week at the same time of day each time. I prefer to weigh myself on Saturday mornings before I go for my run.
- Remember, you are human! One of the main reasons that people give up on their New Year’s resolutions is because they have a moment of weakness and think it is pointless to get back on track. We are all human and will cheat every now and again - the key is forgiving yourself for the indulgence and trying again. If you skip working out for a week and start eating junk food, don’t think that you have undone all your hard work. Get yourself back on track and put the past in the past; this way, all your hard work will not be wasted.
Envision yourself as the new thinner you and keep that mental picture in the front of your mind on this journey. Your New Year’s resolution doesn’t have to be something that you resent - make it fun. Every year, we vow to make changes - whether it's weight loss, quitting smoking or to stop procrastinating. This year, let your resolution be to stick with your resolution.