It’s January 16th. A little over two weeks ago, many of us committed to making 2016 our best year yet.
Friends proclaimed, “I’m going gluten free.” Colleagues cut out sugar. Others said no to dairy. Your grandmother decided to “get hip” and give juicing a try. And your second-aunt (twice removed) and her dog jumped on the “no dairy” boat.
So, what was your resolution?
Or better yet, how’s that resolution coming along? Are you still going at it full-force? Or have you, like so many of people, become a little too lenient with your healthy habits, opting for the easy way out already?
For those of you, who are still on the right track – snaps for you! Keep going. You’re doing great!
For the rest of us, well, ‘A’ for effort. Don’t be too hard on yourself, though – did you know that, despite their best intentions, under 8 % of people actually manage to achieve their new years resolution (1)?
Making a commitment to change can sometimes feel like a pretty tough mountain to climb.
Let’s make it easier then.
Rather than focusing on what you SHOULD do and dedicating your time to tackling more challenges, here’s a list of some simple things that you SHOULDN’T do this year.
They’re not too hard, I promise 🙂
- DON’T rely on fad-diets, quick-fixes, and detoxes to help you drop the weight.
Detox gimmicks are all over the web during the winter months – many people are looking for a quick fix to shed those holiday pounds without really diving into the details of what they’re signing themselves up for. Advertisements claiming that certain beverages or foods will help your body work more efficiently are all over; but, the question is – are detoxes really necessary? Should you really be doing a full-body “cleanse” this January?
The answer is a resounding, “no.”
First off, what is a “cleanse” exactly? Is it another fad-diet? You’ll have a hard time finding an agreed-upon definition, let alone, a tried-and-true “ultimate cleanse” that is guaranteed to work. And in terms of “work”, what does that mean? Turns out, it’s hard to find a detox that specifically lists what it is detoxing the body of. Targeted cleanses are all the rage, ranging from colon to liver to the kidneys – all of which will “revitalize and energize you” – but don’t be fooled.
Because each person is unique, following a strict cleanse of only certain juices or liquids, or severely limited food choices, can have varying effects on each individual – some of which are anything but beneficial. The cold, hard truth is that our bodies do a mighty fine job of “cleansing” us of toxins everyday – that’s what our livers, lymphatic system, kidneys, and lungs are for! While calorically restricted diets have been shown in animal studies to increase life expectancy, a short-term and unbalanced cleanse or detox will not reap the same benefits (2). If the diet falls below 800 calories per day without advised medical supervision, you’re getting involved in risky business – just say no (3)!
Chances are, the weight you lose on a cleanse will creep right back to you as soon as you start to resume your normal eating habits.
In the golden-age of quick-fixes and miracle weight-loss solutions, don’t fall for this one. As always, a balanced, healthy diet, where calories consumed equal calories burned will always be your best bet. And if you’re trying to lose weight in a manageable and realistic manner, then just alter that equation – calories burned should equal slightly more than calories consumed. Just don’t over-do it; healthy weight-loss should equate to approximately a loss of 2.0 pounds per week (3). Consult with a registered dietitian if you need more help.
2. DON’T forget that your mental health and your mindset play a big role in your success!
If you read my post about eating right for body and mind, you may remember the World Health Organization’s statement, “there is no health without mental health” (WHO, 2010). (If you haven’t checked that one out, find it here: https://avocadoearthnutrition.com/2015/10/27/collaboration-eating/).
It’s pertinent to remember that your mental health plays a significant role in your overall physical health. Be nice to yourself. And don’t forget that your mindset influences your abilities, too. If you think you can live better, then you can live better!
Believe in yourself! Self-efficacy, in other words, how confident you are in engaging in a particular behavior, is key when it comes to making healthy choices (4). If you feel unsure about how to cook healthy meals, sign-up for a cooking class. If you’re keen on becoming more physically active, but don’t know how to operate the machines at the gym, bring a buddy! Your skill-set and personal abilities are dependent, to some degree, on your practical knowledge – so get out there and learn by doing! (4).
Feel better about yourself and stay motivated by increasing your self-efficacy, and through this, improving your mental state of being. Find ways to boost your confidence, and believe that you can do it (because, hey, you rule!). Don’t be discouraged, and don’t be afraid to ask for help – reach out to friends, co-workers, or family if you feel like you need support. Check out www.anxiousandalive.com more information on mental health and well-being.
3. DON’T forget that you have an entire year to improve – little changes can lead to big results.
While it may seem like New Years is the time to make big changes, don’t forget that change doesn’t happen over-night. It takes time!
Little changes can lead to big results later on. Your progress may be slow, but sometimes, that’s the best way to go. Your resolution doesn’t have to be drastic or monumental – rather, focus on something that you think would help make your year better than the last, even if it’s in a seemingly minuscule way. Becoming more aware of your hunger cues, what triggers certain habits, or little ways to swap out foods to make your overall diet just that little bit more nutritious are all great examples of small, but significant, changes. Instead of cream in your coffee, opt for skim or 1% milk. Cut back on the sugar, too. Sneak in some veggies whenever possible. Make it a goal to reduce your sugar-sweetened beverage intake. If you consider yourself to be an impulsive person, then working on ways to become less reactive to internal and external cues can be a small change that will have lasting health effects when it comes to diet (5). Studies have shown that impulsive adults are more prone to over-eat, especially when hunger strikes (5). So, if yoga helps you find your zen and make you more resilient to temptation, then practice often. If you tend to over-eat or over-consume when out with friends, then make a pact with a pal – keep each other in check, but don’t stress yourself out if you have a cheat day.
It’s all about balance… even balance!
With these three points in mind, go out an make 2016 your best year yet. Remember, don’t rely on quick fixes; rather, make lasting and proven dietary changes. Stay positive, and reach out if you need support. And finally, be patient and don’t underestimate the power of small, positive changes.
Here’s to 2016!
(1) Norcross, J. C., & Mrykalo, M. S. (2002). Auld Lang Syne: Success Predictors, Change Processes, and Self-Reported Outcomes of New Year’s Resolvers and Non-resolvers. Journal of Clinical Psychology.
(2) Sohal, R. S., & Weindruch, R. (1996). Oxidative stress, caloric restriction, and aging. Science, 273(5271), 59-63.
(3) Guidelines for Choosing a Weight Loss Program. (2015, March 19). Retrieved January 17, 2016, fom http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Weight-Concerns/Guidelines-for-Choosing-a-Weight-Loss-Program.aspx
(4) Brug, J. (2008). Determinants of healthy eating: motivation, abilities and environmental opportunities. Family practice, 25(suppl 1), i50-i55.
(5) Nederkoorn, C., Dassen, F. C., Franken, L., Resch, C., & Houben, K. (2015). Impulsivity and overeating in children in the absence and presence of hunger. Appetite.