I recently read that only about 18% of people who make a New Year’s resolution actually succeed in achieving it. Well done if you have succeeded with yours in the past, commiserations if you haven’t. If you think about why you failed first time round, don’t feel down, learn from the experience.
A couple of years ago I went to see a nutritionist to try and improve my diet, she instantly put me on fresh raw fruit and yogurt for breakfast. It was January, very few fruits are at their best at this time of year, so I struggled to find a compromise as I didn’t want to have to eat bananas every breakfast! In the end I chose to vary it, yogurt and banana one day, low sugar granola with seeds and nuts another, porridge made with frozen raspberries and ground linseed and cocoa another. If things seem impossible tweak them within reasonable parameters.
I found this recently with a fitness instructor who was having trouble with a client who wouldn’t eat the foods suggested on his food plan. Problem was they were so radically different from what she was used to, she failed to adapt. I see many people with food phobias, they have such a limited diet they are either too thin or too fat, depending on what their chosen food is. They think food is just fuel, our bodies don’t just turn food into energy to burn, they are not cars. Cars burn petrol, that makes it move along, but food is not just about moving, it’s about repair, keeping the cells healthy, reducing the chances of DNA damage from free radicals, making sure we have the right bacteria in our system to break down the food and remove toxins, and the neuro-transmitters that keep our brains functioning correctly.
Many dieters fail, not because they are weak willed, but because we have evolved in such a way, that as we get bigger, our bodies adapt and this becomes the new normal – in times of famine, it was those who could store the most fat that tended to survive, so it’s no surprise with food being so available it’s all ending in tears!
So, advice I would give to those who’s new years resolutions are based around weight;
- Learn more about the foods you need and don’t need.
- Learn about the portions best to eat. We often eat with our eyes, or just read the packaging because it’s easy. Just because the food is in the shops doesn’t mean it’s ok for us to eat in large quantities.
- When eating, be mindful about how full you feel. Give at least 20 minutes after a meal to decide if you’re still hungry before having dessert. If you still feel the need for sweet things, you may need to review the types of carbohydrates you’re consuming. Maybe eat more protein with the meal to slow that time down. Then eat fruit, or 2 squares of 70% cocoa dark chocolate.
- If you want to expand the variety of food you eat, start by listing all you like, then introduce one new food at a time. For example if you like spaghetti bolognaise, add in sliced red peppers to the mix. If you like chicken curry, slowly add vegetables like sweet potato, sweet corn or spinach into the mix. Just eating the new vegetable on it’s own can sometimes backfire. I’m not over keen on raw spinach but I eat it, but cooked down in a curry I love.
- Don’t let others cook for you. If you are trying to lose weight you need to have complete control.
- If you are consuming a whole packet of biscuits that’s not normal behaviour, that’s bingeing. Normal behaviour is having one or two biscuits and putting them away. If you can’t, you need to address the psychological aspect of what you’re doing.
- It takes 2 months to change a habit – that’s partly because the brain needs time to create new neural pathways. There is no quick fix, so if you are thinking about losing weight, you need to concentrate on losing no more than 2lb per week, to be fully aware of what you’re eating first and to make small changes at a time.
- Positive emotions help us keep on track. If you always feel down in Winter you may have SAD, get out and walk first thing in the morning and or have a SAD lamp on first thing in the morning.
- Share what you are doing with other people, you are more likely to complete something if you have others backing you up.
- Don’t always start in January. I find starting projects in April means they get finished quicker. Use January to March in the planning stage, then get on with what ever the New Year’s resolution is after the days get longer. Long ago, our New Year was 25th March, so just say you’re working to the old calendar 😉