It’s that time of year again! January is here and with it come the decisions to finally take care of yourself.
I think that’s awesome.
Lots of people put down resolutions, saying you shouldn’t do them, saying you should have a word or why instead, saying that you’re gonna give up anyway so you might as well not have a resolution. I call bs.
I think resolutions can be amazing. The amount of people that accomplish something amazing because they made a decision for the calendar year is awesome. However… when it comes to weight loss I think many times it’s not having a resolution that’s the issue, it’s the resolution itself.
Statistics show that 55% of American adults want to lose weight. In Canada, that number is 80% of women. A side note here is that in Canada, 50% of those women are at a healthy weight according to their BMI. This is a sad indicator of the fact that our culture unfortunately puts waaaaaay too much stock on leanness over health, but that’s a whole other post.
With so many people desiring to lose weight, we need to peel back the curtain a little bit and look at what’s going on behind our weight gain or difficulty in losing weight, and we need to figure out how to do this in a way that next year’s goal can be totally different because we have achieved the outcome.
When it comes to weight, it’s important to note that your weight is a symptom of something else. If you are overweight there is always something behind that that needs to be addressed in order to lose that weight in a healthy way and live in healthy maintenance.
The big questions
The first thing to do when resolving to lose weight this year is to discover what is the symptom behind the excess weight. Here are some important questions to ask (and by no means are these all the questions to ask, just a starting point):
– How is your relationship with food?
Are there forbidden foods (aside from any medical allergies or diseases)? Are you afraid to eat certain foods? Are there foods that you feel will make or break your progress?
– What is your relationship to your body?
Do you love and accept yourself as you are? Do you feel more or less valued and worthy depending on your weight? Are your social life and relationships affected by how you feel about your body?
– How do you feel about exercise?
Is exercise enjoyable or is it punishment? Do you continually compare calories in exercise with calories in food? Do you exercise regularly or at all?
– How much do you believe in yourself?
Do you trust that you can meet your goals? Are you confident that you are a person that can sustain the goal you want to reach? Do you believe you have the strength to see your goal through and do the subsequent work?
– Are there any medical issues?
This sincerely isn’t where most people are, but there are people who have legitimate medical issues regarding weight gain, and these need to be addressed by a physician, not an internet “gut health expert”, or “3 week hormone reset diet”, or a program that worked for such and such trainer so everyone should do it. People with medical concerns should see a medical doctor. I would suggest speaking to your family doctor to get a complete check-up, and possibly following up with an endocrinologist.
After having an understanding of what is behind your weight gain, how do you go about ACTUALLY reaching your goal? Today I’m going to give you a few suggestions on how to do that. For specific nutrition suggestions I highly encourage you to read this post, this post, and this post.
Let’s get to it! 5 tips to actually reach your health goals this year.
1. Keep it sustainable
You’ve probably heard this before, but I’ll say it again because this is probably the most important tip of all. The more sustainable your diet is, the more chance you have of being successful. The reason why most diets fail is not because the diet was bad – most diets aren’t inherently bad. The reason why most diets fail is because they are not sustainable. You can do that for a couple of days, a week maybe… but long term? Its just not doable.
Your goal should be to eat as much as possible while losing weight as slowly as possible. I don’t mean a quarter pound (100g) a week, I mean 1-2 pounds (.5 to 1kg) a week on average, remembering that we don’t lose weight linearly, in this post I give you visuals on this. If you are averaging that weight loss then you are most likely losing more fat than lean tissue, and you are eating enough that you’re not constantly hungry and having binge meals or days.
2. Get help, have a tribe
I’ve done this on my own, and trust me when I say that it is MUCH easier when you do this with someone else, when you have support. Our environment is a huge factor in our success with any goal, and when it comes to weight loss, if you feel like you’re the only person in your world going after this goal… chances are you will get drowned in that.
Get a coach, have one friend in this with you, whatever it is, find some support. It’s a lot more pleasurable and a lot easier.
3. Don’t crash diet.
This is almost a repeat of #1, but listen to this: SLOW DOWN. Don’t buy into losing 5 pounds in 5 days, 30 pounds in 30 days, getting a six pack in 10min a day or any other crap like that. Likewise, you don’t need a detox. Our bodies are INCREDIBLE systems that have kidneys and a liver to detox. You don’t need a detox pill, shake, tea, oil or program to cleanse your body.
Maybe you’re feeling a bit “off” after the holidays, maybe you’re feeling bloated or felt downright awful after the parties. That’s not excess toxins built up in your system, that’s the effect of eating 1. more food than you needed, and 2. rich food (lots of fat, salt and sugar) that you probably don’t eat in that amount on a regular basis.
Your body will flush this out on its own PROVIDED you don’t maintain the behavior. Going on a super low calorie diet to supposedly detox your system will do more harm than good, and in this podcast episode and post I explain how dieting too radically can actually increase your weight over time.
4. Work on your relationship with food
One of the most common things I see when people fail to follow through with weight loss is simply that they have increasingly LESS freedom around food instead of more.
There are seemingly endless rules when it comes to food and people remove so many things that they enjoy in the name of fat loss and wellness that they get to a point where they just can’t take it anymore… and they give up.
No one in their right mind will dispute that the nutritional value of all foods is not equal. In terms of a nutrition, an apple and a donut are not equal. However, any food can fit in a balanced diet because food is more than it’s nutritional components, and an obsession with the nutritional minutia of food has become it’s own problem. Dr John Berardi calls it “over-nutritionalizing. An almost obsessive interest in the nutritional and physiological aspects of a given food.”
While some understanding of nutrition, especially in the beginning stages of dieting is important, that is not the entire focus of your life, nor do we only eat for nutritional purposes. It is essential to work on your relationship with food with regards to your values, your lifestyle, your priorities and your life goals so that you can make choices not based on rules or fear, but based on what’s best for your body in your life.
Exercise is not the best thing for losing weight, simply because it doesn’t actually burn as much calories during exercise as we would like.
THAT BEING SAID…. exercise has numerous health benefits even in the absence of weight loss, and it shouldn’t be used as a tool to lose weight, but to gain health.
Other important reasons to exercise are that long term studies show that of the people who lose weight and keep it off, 70% exercise regularly. Exercise also helps regulates appetite and satiety.
So let’s do this!
You CAN reach your goals, you can lose the weight and keep it off. The best way to do it is slow and steady, with patience and consistency. In this post you can read all about how to use patience and consistency to reach these goals.
Happy new year, I wish you the absolute best and success on your journey. If you are looking for support in the process, contact me at email@example.com or fill out the form in my coaching page.