10 Diet Resolutions Anyone Can Keep By Deborah A. Wilburn
Forget starving, cravings, and all-or-nothing eating plans! Pick and choose from these "if it feels good, do it" tips that make weight loss painless.
1. Make Mini Resolutions That Last
If dropping pounds is on your list - as it is for many of us -- approach your resolution in a way that doesn't set you up for failure by the end of January. A major goal like "lose 20 or 30+ pounds" not only sounds like drudgery, it suggests that you're staring ahead at months of trying hard not to eat - much. Not the best way to start the New Year.
In addition to overreach, another key reason diet-related resolutions fail is because they lack a feel-good component, according to Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN, a dietician in private practice in Massapequa, New York, and author of The African American Guide to Living Well with Diabetes. "Any resolution you set for yourself needs to be something you'd want to do," says Brown-Riggs.
Try a few of these one-size-fits-all mini resolutions - even switch them up as the year goes by - that pack a feel-good punch for steady slimming.
2. Stay Off The Scale
Don't focus on a target weight. By its very nature, healthy and lasting weight loss comes slowly. It can be frustrating to see the needle barely budge, especially when you hit plateaus. A better way to track your progress is to pick a piece of clothing - a sexy top or pair of jeans you'd love to fit into again - and use that to measure how your body is changing. This tip worked for Mariah Carey while she lost weight on Jenny Craig after giving birth to twins Monroe and Moroccan on April 30. She claims she never stepped on a scale, but instead gauged her success by a how easy she could shimmy into a red dress.
Why it'll make you feel good: Each time you get closer to zipping up those jeans you'll get an instant motivation boost.
3. Overcome Exercise Obstacles
You'd like to get back to Zumba class or spinning, but it's freezing out and you feel like a slug. What you wear to the gym matters, says Brown-Riggs. Accentuate the positive and give yourself a psychological lift by replacing your worn-out sweatpants and oversized T-shirt with a more fitted pair of yoga or Capri pants and cute T shirt over your sports bra.
Why it'll make you feel good: You'll be more confident, stronger, and energized to tone your body and shake your booty when you can actually see it!
4. Chow Down In the Morning
If you're still skipping breakfast, now is the perfect time to try a new habit. "Many people figure if they skip a meal they'll lose weight," says Toby Smithson, RD, LDN, CDE, founder of DiabetesEveryDay.com and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "But the opposite is true - they usually gain, and they don't get all the vitamins and nutrients they need each day." Best breakfast food choices include whole grain cereals with skim milk and berries or a small banana; fat-free Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey and a handful of nuts such as sliced almonds, and low-fat cottage cheese with fruit.
Why it'll make you feel good: You can actually eat more to lose weight.
5. Don't Skip Your Must-Have Food
If you take away those chocolate brownies completely, you won't be living without them for long. "I have a client whose breakfast consisted of two bagels loaded with butter," says Brown-Riggs. "I knew it would be unrealistic for her to cut them out completely, so I had her limit it to one. Is it ideal? No. But it's a start."
Why it'll make you feel good: No deprivation - and still cutting calories.
6. Start On A Monday
"Studies have shown that starting weight loss plans on Mondays are the most successful," says Smithson. "The beginning of a new week signals a time for a fresh start."
Why it'll make you feel good: You have 52 Mondays throughout the year to check in with your progress and recommit if you've slipped up. In other words, there's always a second chance!
7. Get Calories On Your Radar
We're not recommending that you count calories for every single thing you eat - think of this as a diet resolution with training wheels. If you're like most people, you grossly underestimate your daily calorie total. Resolve that each week you'll calculate the calories for two meals. For example, that tummy-warming bowl of chili can set you back by 400 calories, and that's before you sprinkle on the ¼ cup of shredded cheese (114) -- or have the second helping, bringing the total to over 1,000 calories. (Note that for every 500 calories per day you decrease, you can lose a pound a week.) You can get a quick calorie count for anything you're about to pop into your mouth at calorieking.com or loseit.com (which also has a mobile app).
Why it'll make you feel good: More mindful eating. One day you may decide the second bowl of chili isn't worth it!
8. Create Your Own Portion Control
"You don't need a scale or special measuring cups, it can all be 'in your hands,'" says Smithson. The palm of your hand is equal to a 3 ounce meat portion; one cupped hand is equal to a ½ cup portion (serving of rice, pasta, or cooked vegetable); two cupped hands is equal to a 1 cup portion (serving of raw vegetables); and the tip of your thumb is equal to a teaspoon (serving of margarine, mayo, or oil).
Why it'll make you feel good: Your "hand guide" is a simple, easy portion target to use whether eating at home or on the go. You're in control.
9. Write What You Eat
Just as you may be unaware of the number of calories you take in, you may be equally zoned out on the variety and amount of food you ingest each day. Take notes (keep a notebook handy or use one of the calorie-counting sites) and you may be surprised by how much tasting, grazing, and snacking you do (remember, your kid's leftover pretzels count, and so does eating a few teaspoons of peanut butter out of the jar while standing in front of the fridge). Studies show that those who keep food records are more successful at slimming down, says Smithson. To get started, record foods eaten as you go (don't rely on your memory), estimate portion size, be specific (i.e. Caesar salad with dressing, parmesan cheese, and grilled chicken) and be honest!
Ways to get started: Calculate your daily calorie needs for weight loss - without lowering your resting metabolic rate (RMR) and download a basic food journal. For automatic tracking, use myfooddiary.com to enter foods from a database of 75,000 items. The tool tracks calories eaten and burned, based on daily exercise and activities, calculates nutrients and more.
Why it'll make you feel good: Keeping a journal is an easy way to spot patterns to your eating style and food triggers. Identifying and changing just one bad habit (for example, scarfing more than one 100-calorie snack at a time) is a sign of progress.
10. Set One Small, Specific Goal
"You might resolve to eat one extra serving of a fruit or vegetable each day," says Smithson. Or pick an activity goal, like training to compete in a 5K in the spring (break it into mini-steps to get started) or walking after dinner.
Why it'll make you feel good: Making any behavioral change will give you a boost. You're proving to yourself that you can do it -- and one small pay-off can spur you on to try another.
11. Add Toning Moves to Down Time
For every one-hour TV program you watch, stand up and exercise during commercial breaks (this only works if you're not fast-forwarding on TiVo!). Think in sets of threes: for example, 3 sets of 10 squats, or 3 sets of 10 crunches per commercial break. For overall toning hold the plank position for a minute - working up to three. This will not only keep you constructively occupied, says Smithson, it'll keep you out of the kitchen.
Why it'll make you feel good: You'll get 15-20 minutes of exercise and still be able to relax watching your favorite show.
Tone your butt with squats
Flatten your abs: The Biggest Loser Workout
More from iVillage.com:
10 Diet Resolutions Anyone Can Keep By Deborah A. Wilburn