It’s almost the end of the year, and a great time to do some reflecting. Were you one of the millions of Americans that vowed to lose weight and get healthier in 2016? If you succeeded, wonderful! And if you didn’t, then now is the perfect time to do some reflecting in order to change the outcome in 2017.
What went well?
Rather than focusing on what didn’t go well, celebrate what did. Remember that change and progress doesn’t happen immediately. Sometimes positive change is two steps forward, one step back. And celebrating these small events reinforces that positive behavior, so celebrate! Perhaps you were able to find support in the right places? Or maybe you have come to the conclusion that you enjoy some healthy foods, or you lost a few inches even though you didn’t lose weight? All of these are amazing accomplishments and should be celebrated.
What didn’t work?
Did you tell yourself that you will spend two hours at the gym every morning before work and only eat 800 calories per day, only to realize it lasted for a week before you jumped ship? Perhaps for you it may be better to limit it to one weight loss goal at a time, like exercise on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays, or trying to get more fiber in your diet every day by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables? Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time. Thus, replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to reassess everything in your life all at once. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time. And don't make it a resolution that you "should" want or what other people tell you to want. It has to fit with your own values and goals. Put some thought into it and prepare yourself appropriately for a lifestyle change.
The power of journaling
Those that journal, succeed! Many of those who vowed to lose weight and succeeded have done so by getting to know themselves better through journaling. This is like a daily reflection on what has worked and what hasn’t, which is half of the battle. Maybe you come to the conclusion that you like salty foods when you are stressed, or so and so is bad influence when you dine out, or getting on the scale daily helps you be more accountable. These so-called “key learnings” are helpful in assessing your weight loss effort and future success in reaching your goals.
If journaling everything seems like a daunting task, consider keeping just a food diary. Even if you are not consciously cutting calories or making healthy food choices, a food diary may still help keep your eating in check. Many people keep a notebook or smartphone handy and write down everything that has been eaten and drank throughout the day.
Even if you write it down on scrap paper and throw it away, the act of writing it down is about being accountable to you and is a very effective tool for weight loss. Keeping track of emotions while eating is also important. Were you angry, sad or bored? We often focus so much on foods and calories, but our emotions are a huge part of our eating habits. If you make a connection between your emotions and overeating, counseling can be a big help to handling those feelings.
Reflection is a powerful tool and it should be used for successful weight loss and weight loss maintenance. Take some time for yourself, and use it to reflect what this year has meant to your health and how you can succeed even more next year!