Welcome back MD residents!
I hope everyone had a great Christmas break and is looking forward to another great year in 2014!
Every January, many of us resolve to better ourselves in some way. Some of us say that we need to travel more, read more books, use our smart phones less, drink less alcohol, or even try an extreme sport. Yes, you got it! We’re talking about New Year’s resolutions!
New Year’s resolutions are a bit like babies: They’re fun to make but extremely difficult to maintain!
One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is losing those extra pounds. Try not to be discouraged if weight loss takes time. Effective, long-lasting weight loss involves not only diet and exercise, but changing your lifestyle. Choosing a realistic weight loss goal is just the first step in working towards your ideal weight. Since I love health promotion, we will focus on some of the most common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight.
1 – Not Having a Goal
Starting the year by saying “I need to lose weight” is not a goal, it’s a wish.
SMART is an acronym that will help you when setting your weight loss goal.
S – Specific: You must identify exactly what you want to accomplish by stating the who, what, where, when, and why.
M – Measurable: In order to track your progress, goals must be quantifiable.
A – Attainable: It is important to evaluate your situation and recognize which goals are realistic.
R – Relevant: Is this goal relevant to your life and to the “big picture”? Good questions to ask yourself are: does it seem worthwhile? Does this match my needs? Is now the right time for it?
T- Time Related: Every goal needs a date associated with it. A goal without a date is just a dream.
Write them down: This is critical. There is a huge power in writing your goals down even if you never develop an action plan. Also, it has been shown that by sharing your goals with others, it strongly improves your commitment, so make it public!
2 – Eating too little
One of the unhealthiest mistakes you can make when trying to lose weight is eating too little. A lot of people will assume that the less you eat, the faster you will lose weight. Although it’s a fact that you must consume fewer calories, you should still eat the recommended calorie intake for your lifestyle (your calorie range is based on how much exercise you are doing, gender, age, your current weight, etc). But if you’re not getting enough good calories, your metabolism will slow down and will therefore make it harder to lose weight. This is called “starvation mode” because your body thinks it is experiencing a famine, and begins holding onto every calorie you ingest, making weight loss much more difficult.
3 – Faster is Better
Another mistake dieters make is having unrealistic weight loss expectations and wanting to lose weight too quickly. A great diet and exercise program is set up to help you safely lose between one to three pounds per week. Studies show that individuals who rapidly lose weight are more likely to gain it back. So if you’ve lost a few pounds this month—excellent! Don’t discount that just because you see someone on T.V. losing 15 pounds in two weeks. Those that lose weight too quickly, may in fact be losing muscle mass as well, which isn’t the healthy way to go.
4 – Relying Just on Cardio
Although cardio is a great way to “burn calories”, it is not the only one. In fact, the best way to burn calories and lose weight is to find an activity that you really enjoy and that you won’t be bored after the first couple weeks. There are many other alternatives to live an active lifestyle. It is also beneficial to do a variety of things throughout the program. For example, you can alternate a program with cardio days and weight training days. Maybe play a sport that you enjoy, go to a zumba class, or even to a yoga class. Always doing different things will help you stay motivated and work on the five components of fitness – cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance, flexibility, and body composition.
5 – Trusting Food Labels
Terms like healthy, low-fat, whole grain, all-natural, vegan, and organic are just some of the words that marketers put on their manufactured food products. They want to convince you that these foods are healthy and that it will lead to weight loss, but it’s not always true.
Instead, try to eat mostly label free foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs, meat, and grain products. These might seem obvious healthy choices, but it can be very hard to change habits. Choose a plan that makes sense to you and follow it. It is usually recommended to have a diet consisting of about 50 – 60 % carbohydrates, 20 – 25 % proteins, and 20 – 25 % fats (unsaturated fats over saturated or transfats).
Hopefully these tips will help you avoid many of the common pitfalls dieters face and help you keep going with your weight loss new year’s resolution. Just remember that the combination of a healthy diet + exercise is the preferred approach to optimal weight loss.
Although I could keep on going forever, this blog post is becoming too lengthy. If you ever need help designing any type of fitness program, feel free to contact me. I would be happy to help you and guide you in the right direction.
To those that don’t need to burn those extra calories, I still hope to see you around the gym!
Remember: If you can’t find the time to live healthy now, you will soon need to find time for illness.