Are you one of the many dieters making a weight loss resolution for the New Year? If so, you are not alone. There are plenty of reasons to start now, stick with it and do not cheat! Did you know that 30 percent of all New Year's resolutions are broken before February? Often times this is because dieters simply aren’t true to themselves and cheat.
Cheating is Cheating
As a registered dietitian, I like to remind dieters that they are only cheating themselves in the long run. Real weight loss takes time. It doesn’t come off overnight, because you didn’t gain it overnight either! The only thing that works are lifestyle changes. Here are a few tips to remind you to stick with it, aim for a gradual lifestyle change and stop cheating!
Stop Having “Cheat” Days
I have to say I am not fond of the phrase “cheat days.” When it comes to one’s diet, it’s what you can keep up in the long run that makes the biggest impact for weight and/or health. That means if you’re relying on periodic indulgences to carry you through the week, your dietary approach may not be sustainable in the long run. The goal isn’t to eat perfectly all week then have your conscience turn a blind eye while you clear the buffet table on Saturday night.
More Harm Than Good
Some people can’t make the switch from healthy to unhealthy. Once they get a taste of sweets, they binge and can’t go back. It throws off their entire diet plan, serving as a setback instead of a small break from the rules. You may be able to see this pattern in someone who smokes. Typically, smokers cannot smoke occasionally and indulge without falling back into their bad habits. By the same token, a cheat meal may turn into a cheat week, or even a cheat month for dieters that push too hard and then begets old habits.
An Exception to the Rule
Although they are few and far between, there are some individuals for which this method works for long term. They are an exception to the rule, so to speak. If they are able to live their lives and feel this method is both sustainable and enjoyable (and they are able to accomplish their nutrition goals) then there isn’t necessarily any reason to stop. Cheat days can offer a mental reprieve for some, but for others is important to always focus on dietary balance as a goal.
Don’t Try a Fad Diet
Short-term diets do not produce long-term success. But generally speaking, the world of fad diets is becoming more transparent. Most informed consumers are starting to understand that and there is a plethora of evidence to back that up. Statistics for dieters who lose weight rapidly do not look good. Only 5 percent of people who lose weight on a crash diet will keep the weight off. And of the 95 percent of people who regain their weight, they often regain more than their original pre-diet weight. Crash diets include any unhealthy diet, from severe calorie-restriction diets to diets that consist of only a few kinds of foods.
Get Off the Rollercoaster
Weight cycling, losing weight and then gaining it back, is common but can be more harmful than never losing any weight. Dieters get so focused on weight loss they are willing to do unproven and potentially dangerous things that can backfire and cause serious health problems. The best diet is the one you can stick with long-term. Unless medically supervised, don’t cut calories below 1,200 per day.
Make Realistic and Specific Goals
The surest way to fall short of your goal or resolution is to make it unattainable. For instance, resolving to NEVER eat your favorite food again or losing 50 pounds in 1 month is simply just setting yourself up to fail. Instead, strive for a goal that is attainable, such as avoiding it more often than you do now or losing 1-2 pounds per week until you lose 20 pounds.
A goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. To be effective, resolutions also need to be specific. Rather than simply saying I will "exercise more," opt for "I'm working out at the gym Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:30 p.m." Or, instead of saying I will “lose weight” say “I will lose 1 pound of weight per week by reducing calories by 500 per day and I will monitor this by getting on the scale every Monday morning and keeping a food journal.” Making a plan, rather than stating one daunting goal can create a series of smaller steps that are much more attainable, making it more likely you will reach a goal.
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