Resolving to lose weight in the New Year was the second most common resolution in 2015, with “stay fit and healthy” topping the list.
Yet sadly, most people don’t make it through the month of January without breaking their resolution to lose “X” number of pounds in the coming year.
If you don’t want to be one of those people, how about changing your approach to your resolutions? Rather than resolving to lose 10-20-30-50-100 or however many pounds, I encourage you to frame your weight loss goals in terms of the actual actions you will take to lose the weight.
Here are 10 actions to resolve to take if you want to end the year with fewer pounds on your body than you have right now.
1. Dump the diet mentality.
There is overwhelming and uncontroverted evidence that diets don't work. Only a tiny percentage of dieters (3%) actually lose weight and keep it off. Yet the $60-billion-dollar diet industry keeps thriving because so many people still believe that to lose weight, they must go on a diet. Would you take a medicine if your doctor told you it had a 3% of working? No way. So forget diets. Stop reading articles and buying books about the latest fad diet. It won’t work either. Instead, make the following changes to your habits.
2. Eat only when your body is hungry, and stop when your body has had enough, but isn’t full.
Notice how I’m talking about your body, not your brain. If you are overweight, you’ve probably lost touch with your body’s signals and have been listening to your brain which is telling you to follow your old habits that have made you overweight. Your brain does a lot of great things for you, but telling you when to eat and when to stop isn’t one of them. So start listening to your body again, and when you feel sufficiently hungry that you are distracted, start eating. Stop eating when you feel lightly full, before your stomach feels distended. If this is the only thing you do on this list, you will lose weight.
3. Eat what you love.
Get rid of lists (even if only in your head) of good foods and bad foods. Unless you have a medical reason for avoiding a certain food, don’t put any food off limits. It is human nature to want things you can’t have even more, so let yourself have what you love and eat in accordance with the other steps set forth here. You’ll stop overeating “healthy” foods that you don’t really want, and allow yourself to enjoy the foods you love. When you listen to your body, it will tell you what it wants. It won’t tell you to just eat chocolate and French fries. I promise. You’ll feel like crap if you do that. You will be so much more satisfied eating foods you love that your cravings will eventually disappear!
4. Eat slowly
If you eat slowly, you’ll enjoy your food more and your stomach will have a chance to tell your brain “enough” before you’ve overeaten. You will eat less. You will also have better digestion.
5. Eat only when doing nothing else
If you have to choose between eating and watching TV or reading your email, you will probably not eat when you have something you’d rather do, unless you’re really hungry. Without distractions, you will pay attention to your food, which means you’ll enjoy it more. You might even notice, as I did, that even though in the past you’ve eaten many times to entertain yourself, eating can be boring!
6. Savor your food
I covered this mostly in the last two items, but really taste your food. Smell it. Notice the texture. The more you enjoy your food, the less you’ll want to eat when you aren’t hungry and you’ll be satisfied with less food.
7. Eat sitting down
Every time you sit down to eat, you bring awareness to the process of eating. Awareness is an essential ingredient for losing weight and keeping it off.
8. Keep a food journal
Writing down what you eat makes you aware of what you’re consuming. Most overweight people do not have a realistic idea of how much they actually eat. Keeping a journal will give you that information and help you be more mindful. Keep the journal for your own information, and be honest with yourself. This is a very powerful tool, and a key to success for most people.
9. Allow yourself to feel your emotions
Almost every overweight person eats for comfort, regardless of whether she is hungry. This is a huge reason why people overeat. You can learn to allow yourself to feel your negative emotions instead of eating to avoid feeling them.
10. Learn from your mistakes
If you mess up, don’t use it as an excuse to give up. The only way you can fail is if you quit. Winston Churchill said, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” Don’t ever beat yourself up for going off course. No one does this perfectly. Instead, think, “What can I do next time to avoid making the same mistake again?” Brush yourself off and take the next step.
Each time you do the things on this list, you get closer to your goal of weighing less. Track your progress by the actions you take, and the weight loss will follow.