After the binges of the holidays, who hasn’t noticed the post-holiday blahs? The clothes fit a little tighter, the energy level just isn’t there and we’re afraid to peek in a full-length mirror. It’s no surprise that losing weight is a top new year’s resolution.
It’s no surprise either that losing weight soon becomes a broken resolution.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We can break the cycle of enthusiasm ultimately replaced by disappointment. It takes a bit of self-discovery, a dose of realism. Instead of resolving to lose weight, make a commitment to healthy living. Change your behavior by building health habits for a lifetime. Otherwise, it is not going to work.
Thousands of school district employees participate in a wellness program offered through California Schools VEBA. They have an advantage, professional health screenings, peer encouragement through group settings, personal coaching, wellness challenges that run just four to eight weeks, and even financial incentives. Still, you can do it on your own by borrowing from aspects of our program.
Step one, the bromide of a doctor’s visit, is good because it can provide the physical numbers of heart rate, cholesterol counts and such. Write down your weight as well as the girth numbers, the measurements of your chest, waist, hips, upper arms, biceps, hips and upper thighs. The real goal is to lose fat and replace it with muscle. Since muscle is more dense than fat, with time the tale of the tape can be more meaningful and accurate than the reading from the scale.
Don’t stop with the physical numbers. Assess your behaviors. Are you missing out on exercise, not even setting aside time for a good walk? Are the sweets and carbohydrates within reach but not the fruits and veggies? Are you wolfing down your lunch at your desk instead of taking time to dine? Is “portion control” a foreign concept?
Step two is setting goals. If your long-term goal is, say, a loss of 30 pounds, understand that a drop of three to five pounds over eight weeks is realistic and attainable. Set that as your first goal instead of the 30-pound target.
Change your habits in stages. This week it may be more fruits and vegetables. Practice that until you feel you’ve got it! The next habit is to increase your water consumption, especially before and during a meal. Maybe the next stage is smaller and more frequent meals. After that, try increasing your exercise to three times a week. Then, maybe find a buddy to walk with several times a week.
Plateaus and setbacks are inevitable. Don’t let them get you down. It takes time to build up your metabolism and progress is not going to come in a straight line. As long as you are changing your behavior, you should feel good about yourself.
Plateaus also are an indication that it may be time to try something different. Try varying your form of exercise or the frequency. Take another look at your eating – for instance, are you consuming too many simple carbs?
If 30 pounds was your goal, consider taking a break after losing the first 10 pounds. Concentrate on just maintenance for a while.
Remember that losing pounds or inches is a matter of changing your behavior and changing it forever. A smaller number on the scale or tape is a sign of progress. But, more importantly, so are the better feelings – more energy, fewer digestive problems, improved moods and after a while experiencing the urge to binge less often.
The post-holiday blahs can provide the motivation. With some self-assessment and changing of behaviors, this New Year’s resolution can be one you attain.
White, a registered nurse with a master’s in public health, is general manager of advocacy programs for McGregor and Associates. The San Diego firm administers health care coverage for 50 school districts through California Schools VEBA.