If losing weight or being ‘healthier’ is one of your ‘New Year’s resolutions’, you’re not alone. Battling the post-Christmas bulge is a high priority for many people. Even the media is full of the latest wacky diet or nutrition craze.
However, one of the biggest problems of New Year’s Resolutions is that most of them don’t work! This is because we often make resolutions that are too difficult to keep and require too many changes; the truth is that many are simply not sustainable. Most gyms receive a surge of new memberships in January, but by March, things have quietened down as people realise that going to the gym every day is just not sustainable.
The good news is that if you’re thinking about losing weight in the New Year – whether you’ve already done a Slim & Save programme, are thinking about starting one, or are planning to lose weight in a more traditional way, you can be successful. By careful planning and staying focused, you can achieve your goal. We have put together several tips for you to consider and take on-board before taking the plunge.
You can’t under-estimate how important preparation is. Quite often, we just dive head-on into something, and then wonder why we’ve failed. In the wise words of Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.
- Write a list pros and cons – draw a line down a piece of paper, and write your ‘pros’ for weight loss on one side, and the ‘cons’ to losing weight on the second column. Try to include a variety of reasons – including physical, social, emotional and psychological reasons – and be as specific as possible. Some examples of ‘pros’ could include less body fat, improved mobility, better self-confidence or body image. Some examples of ‘cons’ could include inability to eat socially, cooking different meals or feeling like you’re missing out. Everyone’s reasons will be slightly different. You may also find it helpful to rank these in order of highest to lowest.
- How ready are you to change? – ask yourself this question, and decide where you sit on a scale of 0–10. Then ask yourself how you could move yourself on from this point. You may find it helpful to do this scale for the main ‘cons’ on your list. There may be some practical things you need to do as a result, such as changing the time of day you do your shopping, stopping buying certain foods, or putting your partner’s snacks under lock and key!
- Consider any behavioural links – if you struggle with a particular eating behaviour, such as snacking or binging during the evening, you could think about your thoughts and feeling leading up to this event. Once you know the triggers, these behaviours can be easier to stop. Thoughts and feelings of stress, anxiety and boredom are often triggers for negative eating behaviours.
- Enlist support – support is really key to successful weight loss. Why not take a friend or family member on your journey with you; they could be helpful in bouncing ideas off, and even introducing some friendly competition. You could even save some money by using our ‘refer a friend’ scheme. If you have family members at home with you, asking them not to eat certain foods in front of you may really help.
- Decide on a reward system – here at Slim & Save we recognise the importance of marking those weight loss achievements and goals… Making your own non-food related goals is important too. Make your goals achievable, and regular, for example, a reward for each half stone you lose. You could include rewards like a cinema trip, a new dress, or even a holiday when you reach your final goal weight. Write these goals down on a piece of paper, and stick it somewhere visual so you have a constant reminder. You could also use this as a weight recording chart.
- Invest in the right equipment – invest in a good set of weighing scales; they don’t have to be overly expensive. Also, you will need a tape measure; the type used in dress-making is best; avoid heavy duty DIY types. Resist the urge to buy a body fat analyser – they are very unreliable.
Even with the best preparation and will-power, sometimes you can feel demotivated and struggle to stay focused. Whilst a difficult or challenging experience can trigger this, it often happens when we go through the normal stresses and strains of daily life. These tips will help you to stay focused throughout your new eating or exercise venture.
- Monitoring progress – measure and record your weight and other body measurements like waist circumference. Sometimes you may not notice a reduction in weight on your scales, but you will see a reduction in body measurement, so use both together. Sometimes you may need to ignore the number on the scales altogether, and instead focus on your improved confidence and sense of well-being.
- Record your goals somewhere visible – Make sure you record your weight loss and body measurement changes and keep your recording chart somewhere visible! Weight tracker apps are great, but a chart or graph on your fridge will provide daily reminders that it’s all worth it!
- Reaching milestones – set regular milestones and reward yourself accordingly. These rewards will really give you something to look forward to, and make all your hard work seem worthwhile. Some weeks, even losing 1lb will seem like hard work, so give yourself a little pick-me-up (non-food related of course!).
- Each day is a new day – there will be difficult days when you ‘fall off the wagon’ – nobody’s perfect. There is no point wallowing and worrying about yesterday’s mistakes. The key is to refocus and get back on track today.
- Meal plans – whether you are on a Slim & Save programme, or in the weight maintenance phase, making use of meal plans is important. They will help you look forward to food, as well as making sure you have the right things in the fridge and cupboard. You don’t want to get to Friday and realise you’ve run out of your favourite veggies. Display your meal plan somewhere visual; for example on the fridge, or invest in some chalk and a small blackboard.
- Practice mindful eating – a bit of a ‘buzz word’, the ethos of mindfulness is to encourage people to live in the moment. It’s about becoming more aware of what you’re eating. It’s about asking yourself if you’re really hungry, reviewing portion sizes, tapping in to when you feel full, and slowing down by savouring the presentation and flavour of each mouthful. This technique can be particularly important for people who are emotional eaters.
Written by Annemarie Aburrow RD BSc (Hons) PGDip, Slim & Save Dietitian.