New Year’s resolutions are commonly made and broken within weeks. We all know the story: ‘I will do this…’, ‘I will stop doing that…’, ‘I need to learn how to…’ Unfortunately, most of us make a resolution, expect immediate results, and are discouraged when we don’t see the results we want.
As far as I know, no one keeps stats on New Year’s resolutions (thankfully), but one that I hear commonly is a resolution to lose weight. A lot of people overdo it during the last two (or three) weeks of December and so head into January with a little bit of extra weight. Others have struggled with their weight for some time, but take the New Year as a chance to commit to losing the weight once and for all.
Weight loss, however, is no easy feat for most people, especially when the excitement and enthusiasm of New Year’s has you setting the bar high. A healthy rate of weight loss is generally rated to be 1-2 pounds per week, a rate that is hardly awe-inspiring – if you’re looking to lose 20 pounds, and after a few weeks of challenging diet and exercise changes, you’ve only lost 3 or 4 pounds, it can be easy to get discouraged.
Find someone with whom you can form a therapeutic alliance. Weight loss is a challenge, but there are strategies that are proven to work. However, though these strategies are effective in taking weight off and keeping it off, they require consistent, ongoing work – there are no quick fixes where weight loss is concerned. As a result, it’s important to have someone you can work with, whether that’s a health professional, a personal trainer, a friend, or a family member. I think I harp on this just about every week, and I’ll continue to do so – when working with chronic health concerns or long-term health projects, don’t go it alone. In times of difficulty or discouragement, it helps to have someone to lean on.
Exercise is key, even if the weight doesn’t seem to be coming off. A recently published study showed that in the long run, staying active reduces mortality from all causes, regardless of weight change. These reductions were not small potatoes, either – staying fit reduced all-cause mortality by 30%, and an even larger drop was seen in those who improved their fitness. I don’t think this study shouldn’t diminish the health benefits of attaining a healthy weight, but should serve as encouragement to those who exercise without seeing the immediate benefits. Here’s a great video to give you some more encouragement, and here’s a little entry I wrote about what ‘counts’ as exercise. A lot of people, especially around the New Year, rush into vigorous exercise regimens they can’t keep up, but I recommend starting closer to home – go for a walk, get in the garden, take a bike ride. The key to exercise is to be regular about it, not to be vigorous.
To sum it all up, here’s my invitation to you – make a New Year’s resolution to your health. Losing weight has tremendous benefits, but equally important is to get active. Weight loss improves your cardiovascular health (a big issue among us Americans), and exercise is good for just about everything under the sun. And as always, work with others in achieving your goals – when I was in school, one of the mottos they taught us when preparing us for 4 years of school was this, ‘If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.’ Nowhere is this truer than with weight loss – if you want to achieve your goals, find someone who will support you in doing so.
I wish you all health and happiness in 2012.