Many people have good intentions with their New Year’s Resolutions. The most popular New Year’s resolutions of 2021were to lose weight (48%), exercise more and improve fitness (50%), improve diet (39%), and save more money (44%). However, some of the methods for achieving these goals are unhealthy and should be avoided. When we set resolutions we need to focus on changes we can stick to for a long period and also make sure that it is positive, both mentally and physically. It is important to look at the big picture and focus on changes that are long-lasting and healthy in every way. And bonus, planning resolutions this way will also help you avoid having the same resolution year after year.
The statistics relating to New Year’s resolutions aren’t very promising. Overall less than 64% of people stick to their goals after 30 days, only 54% after 60 days, and only 9% of people actually accomplish them! At Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating we wanted to list out 9 New Year’s Resolution traps that prevent you from reaching your goals. We hope that avoiding these traps will help you live a healthier and happier life!
1. Avoid Diet Mentality
Healthy eating doesn’t require you to cut out your favorite foods once and for all. In fact, telling yourself that you will never eat a certain food ever again increases the likeliness of binging on that food. It’s human nature to want what we are not supposed to have. Diet mentality is a trap and focuses on all-or-nothing thinking related to food which is unrealistic and set to fail. It’s necessary to understand that a healthy diet includes all foods in moderation and does not view food as good or bad. When following a diet with lots of rules, it also impacts the way we feel about ourselves, increases anxiety, and can lead to disordered eating. You do not need to take your diet or exercise patterns to the extreme to get results. Instead, strive for an attainable goal, such as losing 1-2 pounds per week. To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work.
2. Steer Clear of Gimmicks
Many experts raise concerns over tools or treatments purported to reduce the appearance of cellulite, trim fat in specific areas, shed pounds, or build muscle, especially if they claim to replace exercise and good nutrition. According to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) weight-loss advertising trend report, in the year 2000 alone, consumers spent over $34 billion on weight-loss products and programs!!! This study found that 40% of weight loss ads make at least one false claim, and an additional 15% make at least one claim that lacks proof. The majority of people want to lose weight and these products and services promise miraculous, quick-fix remedies. Health professionals know that for a successful weight loss plan, it is best to stick with real food, focus on healthier choices, and make changes that can be maintained for a significant timeframe. Most health professionals find that these gimmicks cannot be trusted.
These gimmicks often focus on a never-ending quest for easy solutions, advertising that is misleading and preys on people’s insecurities and is part of the multi-billion-dollar industry that cares about the money they can make rather than the actual health of the consumer. You can easily identify them if they use consumer testimonials, before and after photos, rapid weight-loss claims, report weight loss without diet or exercise, Dr. endorsed, and safe/all-natural claims. The research shows that in the end, these quick fixes do nothing to address the nation’s or individual’s weight problems and if anything, may contribute to an already serious health crisis.
3. Don’t Weigh Yourself Too Much
Living healthier doesn’t always mean losing weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is extremely important for overall health, however, it certainly isn’t the end all be all of living healthy. Some people get so obsessed with the number on the scale that they hop on the scale every day or even multiple times a day. This habit can prove dangerous to mental and total body health. When hopping on the scale multiple times a day, people can start to get frustrated, have a decrease in self-esteem, and they feel less confident in the changes they are making. Letting go of the daily weighing can help you recognize the other “non-scale” factors of health such as increased energy, improved mood and sleep, decreased food cravings, decreased bloating, and more digestive regularity. While the number may be bouncing around or not “dropping” you are most likely adding a lot of good habits.
Muscle mass is denser and leaner than fat mass. This means that the scale may not be reflecting any changes in your weight, but your body is getting leaner. Another factor that can be missed by weighing too often is any changes in your endurance. When your body can perform activity for longer periods of time or at a faster pace that is a sign your heart and lungs are getting stronger and healthier. The best practice for weighing yourself is to only step on the scale once or twice a week and ideally at the same time of day.
4. Scratch the Sedentary Lifestyle
Studies show that people who lose weight and keep it off include physical activity in their daily routine. Getting regular exercise also helps prevent excess weight gain in the first place and keeps muscles strong and healthy to fuel a good metabolism. Beyond weight management, exercise has a slew of other health benefits that shouldn’t be ignored. Regular exercise helps to improve overall mood, control chronic health conditions like diabetes, boost energy, and promote better sleep. Steer clear of programs that discourage exercise or recommend an unrealistic amount of exercise. Moving your body in a way that you enjoy and fits into your lifestyle is the best because it is maintainable and leads to exercise you look forward to versus dread.
5. Don’t Follow the Latest Fad
Fads come and go and statistics show they are not successful in the long run. People often gravitate towards fads because they promise BIG results in a short amount of time and usually oversimplify the change process. But, fads are hard to stick to, are expensive, and not backed by scientific evidence. When working to keep your New Year’s resolutions, focus on doing it the right way, make lifestyle changes based on sound guidance that you can envision sticking to for many years to come. Avoid any program using words like “toxic” or “harmful” to describe food, or that tells you to cut out entire food groups with no credible research or reason. And FYI, just because a diet claims to have credible research doesn’t make it so. It is great that you want to eat healthier but beware of scare tactics. Food should not be feared nor associated with guilt and shame. And really, anyone can lose weight eating mostly cabbage soup or low-calorie, highly processed shakes for 2 meals – but how long could you keep that up, really? These very-low calorie fads will lower your metabolism, lead to muscle and even bone loss, and can harm your relationship with food. This sets you up to gain all the weight back and then some and also will not teach you any lifestyle changes that you can continue with for the long-term.
6. Skip Viewing It as a Race
Be patient when making lifestyle changes. Long-term change takes commitment, encouragement, and time. Stick to your plan and know that small steps add up over time. It may be tempting to try to reach your goal quickly but that may mean going to an unhealthy extreme and following advice that will not hold up in the long run. This is true, especially with weight loss. When someone loses weight too fast, they often lose more water weight and muscle mass, which can show impressive results on the scale but sets the person up for quick regain when they return to their normal eating habits. Losing muscle mass can lead to a slower metabolism which can make future weight loss efforts harder and also lead to a faster regain.
7. Don’t Be Too Tough on Yourself
Many people throw in the towel on their goals after one misstep. They eat a donut someone brought into work and then because they feel like they’ve failed, they ditch their entire New Year’s resolution. Or skip one day at the gym and give up. This is also known as all-or-nothing thinking. No one is perfect and for long-term success, it is best to keep focusing on the big picture. One mistake is not going to ruin your goal: it is all about balance. If you find that you are struggling to stick to your resolution, maybe the plan you made is too restrictive and needs to be revised. Think back to your initial motivation, remind yourself why you are doing this, and stay positive.
8. Ditch Wishy-Washy Goals
Having a general goal such as, “I want to eat better,” lacks direction on what exactly is going to be done to make healthier choices. There is no clear direction of steps to be taken to achieve that resolution. Be clear on the direction you are heading with your goals. Are you focusing on cooking more at home? Eating more vegetables? Avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages? Once you decide what exactly you are going to do, then it is time to make a plan for change. Divide bigger goals into smaller goals. Make more specific goals with practical steps that are achievable. One way is to rephrase your goal as a SMART GOAL. If your goal is vague you won’t be able to measure your progress or even know when you’ve achieved it.
9. Avoid Going It Alone
Most individuals start to lose motivation after the first few weeks, studies show that social support is critical for when you are faced with tough obstacles or feel like throwing in the towel. Find someone that will be there for you through the long-term, will be non-judgmental and can relate to you. Have open conversations with this person about your struggles, goals, and how they can support you best. There is strength in numbers for helping you to reach your goal. A buddy is key for keeping you accountable, which can be half the battle. Working out or eating healthier with a partner also increases your motivation. Having a common direction will help you both stay focused.
When teaming up with others, being a good example will help the entire group feel supported and may also help with motivation. We often learn from others and are more willing to join in on lifestyle changes, such as going for a walk over a lunch break. Keep the focus on health, not weight. This is not a competition but about establishing healthy eating patterns and being active to be strong, fit, and healthy.
Hopefully this year you will be included in the 9% that were successful at maintaining your New Year’s Resolution! Remember: Be patient, set a plan, forgive yourself, and know you are worth it!!!
Looking to break from the mold of the all-or-nothing dieting plan? Seattle Sutton meal plans provide the modersation that is so important to successful diet. Stay committed to a healhtier 2022 with the help of Seattle Sutton!