After the holidays, people all across the world look forward to starting the New Year off on the right foot. This often means making to-big promises to themselves that they can’t keep. More often than not, these New Year’s resolutions are nutrition-related. Some people want to lose 10 pounds, some people want to eat a 100% plant-based diet, and some people just want to commit to “Meatless Mondays.”
The sudden surge of enthusiasm and empowerment that the New Year brings is great and all, but it’s certainly not sustainable. In fact, making a New Year’s resolution might make matters worse. Making big changes all at once can be overwhelming and discouraging. Instead, commit to making small, manageable changes right away that you know will improve your quality of life.
In case it’s not clear how I feel about weight loss goals as New Year’s resolutions, let me explain a little further! Here are 3 good reasons why you should ditch your New Year’s Resolution and stick to setting reasonable health goals and taking actionable, small steps
Quick fixes are a myth.
Unfortunately, quick fixes don’t actually exist. I know it sounds appealing to lose 10 pounds in a month by overhauling your diet, but it simply doesn’t work that way. Weight loss is a long-term goal with no overnight solution. Crash diets that give immediate results might lead to a little bit of weight loss at first, but you’re likely to gain it back (and some) once the diet ends. Instead, make small, manageable changes to your diet to help you move the number on the scale and keep the pounds off.
You might be doing more harm than good.
Most crash diets (actually, almost all diets) require you to restrict your calories or cut out entire food groups. This can leave your body vulnerable to malnutrition and leave your immune system compromised. What’s worse is that if you restrict your calories too much for too long, your body will react by slowing down its metabolism in order to protect you from yourself. Crash diets essentially send messages to you’re starving.
In addition to crash diets, a lot of people seek out detoxes. I’m here to tell you that no amount of Christmas cookies or holiday cocktails require a detox. Our bodies have natural detoxification processes that do their jobs just fine. Simply eating well will help support those processes. No need to drink nasty detox juices!
Dieting is stressful.
No one in the history of the world has ever enjoyed dieting. Trust me. Dieting almost always causes stress, which makes losing weight nearly impossible. Managing your stress is actually a huge part of controlling your weight. High stress levels cause your body to release extra cortisol. Cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone, has been linked to all types of things that prevent weight loss like increased appetite, more frequent food intake, and more belly fat. To make matters worse is that stress often causes people to impulsively eat whether or not you’re actually hungry. So long story short – going on a diet that stresses you out can actually be counterproductive.
How to Replace Your New Year’s Resolution with a Sustainable Goal
Because one of the most popular (if not the most popular) New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight, I get a lot of weight-loss questions from clients, family, and friends. Here are a few evidence based weight loss tips that are actually sustainable.
Keep a food long for a few days.
There’s no reason to weigh and measure your food and strictly count your calories, but keeping a simple food journal for a few days can give you a good picture of what a day of eating looks like for you. After three days of writing down what you eat or taking pictures of your meals and snacks can really increase your self-awareness. Knowing where you’re starting from is crucial to making changes and reaching a goal. When you have everything laid out in front of you, it’s easy to see where you can make improvements so you can implement sustainable changes.
Swap out simple carbs and focus on complex carbs.
I know the diet culture has been back-and-forth on carbs for what feels like forever, but let me clear the air: we need carbs. They give us energy, help transport micronutrients in the body, provide fiber that promotes gut health, and help us think clearly. That being said, there’s a
difference between simple and complex carbs that is crucial to understand if you’re looking to lose weight.
Simple carbs are digested and processed by the body quickly, which causes unstable blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. This blood sugar roller coaster can ultimately lead to Type II diabetes. Chronically unstable blood sugar levels and insulin resistance are directly linked to weight gain. Simple carbs to avoid are things like soda and other sugary beverages, baked goods, and breakfast cereals.
Swap out those simple carbs for complex carbs! Complex carbs are much more nutritious than simple carbs. They are loaded with fiber and starch that help the body digest food more slowly, which supports stable blood sugar levels and proper insulin production. Foods that are high in fiber are things like fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Incorporating these high fiber foods in your diet can promote fullness (and ultimately weight loss).
It’s pretty well known that drinking enough water can help you lose or maintain your weight, but the reasons why aren’t quite as well known! First of all, drinking a glass or two of water before each meal can reduce your appetite. This study shows that this is especially true for adults that are at least 60 years old. Drinking water and replacing other fluids like soda and juice with water can also lead to weight loss. Makes sense, right? Water is completely void of calories so if you swap out a 150 calorie serving of soda with a glass of water, you’ll be eating 150 calories less each day.
And simply drinking more water and making sure you’re thoroughly hydrated can actually increase your metabolism and help you burn more calories! This study shows that drinking 16oz of water can increase the metabolic rate of men and women by up to 30% for 10-40 minutes
after drinking the water. In short, drinking water before meals, swapping out other drinks with water, and boosting your metabolism by drinking enough water can be a pretty powerful combo!