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Sticking to Your Diet In The New Year

December 23, 2015

Did you know that just 8 percent of people stick to their New Year’s resolutions? That number is startling because it means that 92 percent of us fail every year to keep a promise we’ve made to ourselves.

The most popular New Year’s resolution people make is to stay fit and healthy. Thirty seven percent of Americans made this resolution in 2015. In January, we’re filled with energy and persistence, but it’s hard to keep that momentum going during the 11 months that follow.

Good fitness and overall health should be a goal every year, but if you plan to make this your New Year’s resolution, here’s how you can stick to it.

Start Small & Set Achievable Goals

Many people like to set huge diet goals in January, but it’s better to start small and keep it simple. Also, setting unrealistic goals is setting you up for failure. Yes, it would be nice to lose 20 pounds in a month, but most of us don’t have the determination or understand the level of sacrifice it takes to achieve this. Plus, research shows that losing weight gradually helps you maintain long-term weight loss. Aim for 1-2 pounds of weight loss a week. Any more than that will be difficult to maintain.

For example, putting milk in your coffee rather than half and half.  This resolution is specific and feasible.  Don’t underestimate the power of small changes. Over the course of a year, you could save 18,500 calories, or the equivalent of 5 pounds, by making this one small change.

Positive Diet Improvements

It’s easier to eliminate bad habits when you replace them with better ones.  If your pledge is "no candy bars at work," make "pack healthy snacks” part of the solution. Other substitutions include cutting back on high-fat condiments like mayonnaise or those that contain lots of sugar and salt, like barbecue sauce and soy sauce. Opt instead for hummus, tzatziki or plain yogurt. Trade sugary desserts for fruits, homemade yogurt parfaits with nuts and seeds or baked apples with a sprinkling of cinnamon. All these desserts are healthy and still satisfy your sweet tooth.

If you eat out frequently, cook more meals at home. Start with once a week and gradually work your way up. Try the cook once, eat twice method.  Make larger quantities than you need for one meal and freeze the rest for future meals. Chili, soup and stews are perfect cook once, eat twice dishes. We often eat healthy when we cook for ourselves, so making this change will have a significant impact on your weight loss efforts. 

Get Moving

Eating a balanced diet is just one part of staying healthy. Exercising regularly is essential to achieve long-term weight loss. Join a running or walking group. Take zumba or spinning classes at your local gym or fitness studio. Getting fit with a group helps keep you accountable. It’s also a support system that can encourage you when things get difficult. Several studies have shown that weight loss groups are better than the go-it-alone approach. So ask a family member or friend to join you in your weight loss journey.

Get a Support System

As I mentioned before, a support system is critical. This can come in the form of friends and family, but doctors, nutritional counselors and dietitians also can help you stay healthy, especially after weight loss surgery. Most hospitals and weight loss clinics offer nutritional counseling through a comprehensive program where a dietitian or nutritionist monitors a patient’s diet and gives guidance for how to maintain weight loss long term. People who are more engaged with these programs often do better long term. Studies have shown that people who actively participate in these groups have about a 10 percent lower body mass index compared to those who do not.

This New Year’s, be a part of the 8 percent of people who actually stick to their resolutions. Make a promise to yourself to get fit and rely on the support of others — and your own determination — to help you achieve this worthwhile goal.