For the past 10 years I have set weight loss and health goals at the beginning of the year and every year I end it weighing more than the last. I am determined this year will be different, and I realized that in order to get a different result, I would need a different tactic.
About this time every year... just a week or two in, I would start to feel it. You know what I'm talking about - that pull to give in JUST a little because you've been working so hard. That frustration you feel that this is a LOT of work and you know its going to take a LOT of time. Its disheartening.
I have decided that for me, the best way to find success with my health is to do things ONE step at a time. It sounds time consuming, but it can't be any worse than spending 10 years wishing I were thinner.
I also have a theory that by constantly making healthier choices one at a time, you keep your body on its toes, and as a result it should ideally not stall out or stagnate with weight loss like it does if you're on a consistent diet and exercise plan for a long period of time.
My theory is this... its too much change on the body to shock it into losing weight by changing EVERYTHING at once - diet, exercise, etc. Your body can't take it and you literally feel MISERABLE. Fat, calories, sugar, and caffeine are all components that your body has learned to burn at the rate it is used to burning it at. Changing any that up is bound to be uncomfortable, because the body resists change like that, but changing it all at once can put your body into a severe phase of withdrawl.
That is when the temptation gets worse, your motivation wanes, and you physically feel like poo. In short, its awful. Because of this awful-ness, its often hard to stay excited about your progress, and you feel the temptation to "cheat" just a little, because you've earned it by sacrificing so much.
I'm not a doctor, mind you... these are just the ramblings of an experienced dieter, and someone who wants a change. One that will last and not make me miserable in the process.
Because of my theories on all of this, I have been doing things a step at a time. My first week of the year I cut out sugary sodas. The rest of my eating was normal. just no soda. My options were other non-sugary drinks, but caffeine is okay (taking out sugar & caffeine at the same time is too much at once in my opinion, and frankly, I want to keep the caffeine). I also made a rule that I had to drink my water before I could have any other type of drink.
It really hasn't been as hard of a change as I expected it would be! I used to drink about 5 glasses of Coke a day, and when I say glasses, I mean the really tall ones. As a result of just this small change, I know I have cut out nearly 1000 calories each day that I would normally take in, just drinking soda. That is a huge change and one that will seriously trigger health improvement in my body.
I am starting to exercise a little as well. I have been alternating doing Pilates for as long as I can do it, and then walking with a friend. I am setting a goal of 3 times exercising at least 20 minutes this week. This change isn't incredibly dramatic in that I am not physically really sore or exhausted. I'm doing things I enjoy and in small increments. The change isn't painful and it is something that will ultimately improve my health.
Next week, I want to try for 5 days of exercise (3 of those being walking), and taking new vitamins & a fish oil supplement for heart health. I will continue with my drink changes, and will institute a rule of no eating after 9pm (I usually stay up past midnight so this is a goal of eating no more than 3-4 hours before bed). I will gradually move the time to eat at night up each week until I am only eating dinner, and no snacks before bed. Its something I want to ease into. Still, that change will make a difference in the end!
I'm working up to my goals, really giving myself the entirety of 2009 to reach them, and not working so hard that I am miserable in the process. I want this to be a transition for my life to change. I would love a quick fix, just like any one of us, but in my experience, they are often so hard to accomplish that for me, it has been near to impossible to do. This tactic, however, seems like something I can do without feeling neglected, miserable, or too tempted.
I am trying to face my demons, and to look at these challenges as small changes. I'm not looking at where I want to be in a year. I'm looking at what I can do this week to be healthier. The year will continue and my health and weight will change either for the better or for the worse whether I dwell on it or not. I'm focusing on my goals in small steps and reaching successes along the way that allow me to ease into a life of healthier choices without feeling bad.
I'm not telling myself that this whole year has to be diet and exercise and sacrifice.... I'm telling myself that by the end of the year I want to be happy with the changes I have made for my health, my body, my appearance, and my self esteem.
I do have goals that I would like to reach, which help me pick what changes to make. By the end of 2009 I would like to be eating healthy foods that nourish my body in proportions that provide the nutrition and satisfaction I need to live a healthy life. I still want to enjoy food, but I don't want to be a slave to it anymore. I would also like to be running regularly by the end of the year.
I did not make specific weightloss goals because the only thing I can control is what I put into my body and how much energy I put out of my body through exercise. My body will respond with the appropriate healthy response for weight loss as I continue to make healthier choices. I dont' want to put a number to it, because if it is going in a positive direction, that is all that matters. This is a life change and I *will* eventually get there.
Any change forward is a positive one.