It's January, the time of year when my normally empty gym has a wait for every treadmill and my small Weight Watchers group has turned in to Grand Central Station. Somehow, the new year has convinced those who had only weeks ago committed to holiday gluttony with mind, body and soul that they can turn it around and get in shape.
I've said before that I don't like the word resolution. It usually brings a negative image to mind, a vision of this grand plan that we start so filled with hope, only to come crashing down a few short weeks, or even days later. Listen, I'm not here to discourage you. Change is good, weight loss is better, and I encourage you take inspiration and motivation wherever you can find it. Weight loss is a tough journey and you'll need it. What I want to do is share some things you need to know to make weight loss a lasting resolution you won't find yourself making again next January.
Know Your Mind
I've worked with nutritionists, personal trainers and wellness coaches who swear that the majority of weight loss is whatever their expertise is, be it diet or exercise. Both are important, but I've found that the true key to weight loss is making a mental shift. Before you can put the chocolate cake down and pick the hand weights up, you have to first change your mindset. It's easy to make temporary changes with sheer willpower, but as Jillian Michaels has often said, "willpower is nothing more than a fleeting moment of bravado." If you want your weight loss to be more than fleeting, it has to start in your head. You have to be able to make the tough decision between your goals and your cravings or to drag your butt off the couch when you would rather curl up in your Snuggie. Work your biggest muscle first (that's your brain) to see lasting changes.
Know Your Why
I'll be the first to admit that I've set many a shallow weight loss goal, even some not quite as shallow ones like to be a skinny bride. However, once I bought the dress and it fit, there really was no reason to try lose anymore, right? Then I would just have to have it altered and that would be a waste...so with ten months left before my wedding I had already found the perfect excuse to give up. That's why you need to dig deep to find the real reasons you want to lose weight. Are they yours? They better be, because someone else's are not going to motivate you for long, even if they have your best interests at heart. While there's nothing wrong with wanting to look good in your bikini at the beach you may find that playing with grandchildren, participating in your favorite activities or kicking diabetes and insulin to the curb will really keep you going when the going gets tough.
If you're reading this, you've probably dieted in the past, and you've probably lost and gained the same 25 pounds more times than you can count. Although it may be painful, look back at why those attempts didn't work. Did you eliminate carbs when pasta is your favorite food or commit to run a marathon with bad knees? This is about you, and it has to be for you. Your goals and plans have to draw from your strengths, eliminate your weaknesses and fit into your lifestyle. Like clothes, weight loss is never one size fits all, so don't just go with what worked for your mom or your BFF. Take time to develop a lifestyle and habits that work for you.
Know Your Plan
You don't assume projects at work will run themselves or that your kids will finish their science project without guidance, so why would you assume weight loss would be any different? We all know the saying - if you fail to plan, plan to fail. It's a popular saying for a reason. Set a long term goal and chunk it down to bite size pieces. Use this as your guide to weekly action items to keep you going in the right direction. Write them on a dry erase board, your blog, or your Google calendar. I hate to use another cliche, but goals not written down are just wishes.
Know Your Limitations
Think ahead about what your biggest obstacles will be. You don't have to gaze into your crystal ball and predict the future; this isn't your first rodeo. You know what your limitations are, and being honest about them is the best thing you can do to minimize them. Are you time crunched and on the go or a klutz in the kitchen? Research ways to work around it by preparing multiple meals at once or taking a cooking class. If that box of graham crackers calls out to you like a siren's song from the pantry, don't keep them there to tempt you. Make your environment one to support and motivate you. There will be obstacles, so have a plan in place before they hit.
Know Your Successes
There will be both good days and bad days, and the important thing is to celebrate the good days. I spent so long beating myself up because I didn't like the number on the scale that morning or because I used sugar and cream in my coffee instead of skim milk and Splenda, and it was miserable, not motivating. I never spent as much time celebrating the right decisions I was making as I did regretting the not so good ones. While you can learn from your mistakes, that's not what most of us tend to do with them. Reward yourself when you meet your goals, even the small ones. Learn to accept compliments; you deserve them. Don't discount the little things like taking the stairs or eating more vegetables. Every single step you take in the right direction is one step closer to where you want to be. Remember to cut yourself slack. You're no less worthy of it then everyone else around you. It all goes back to the mindset I talked about earlier. If you have a mindset of self-love, you will believe that you're worth it.
So call it a goal, an intention, or a resolution if you want, as long as you know that weight loss is not a day-long, month-long or year-long commitment, but a lifelong journey to health and wellness. Good luck in the year ahead, I know you can do it!
Kristin Hodnett is a reformed yo-yo dieter and blogger born and raised in Virginia where she now resides with her husband, Shih-Tzu and mother. When not at her day job as an executive assistant, she enjoys yoga, has a thing for designer handbags and a weakness for Sprinkles cupcakes. Follow her path to thinner peace at 30-Something and Fabulous.