Avoiding the Diet Scam
This time, start your new year with some new resolutions.
By Sara Mattillion | Graduate Dietetic Intern, Northern Illinois University
The new year symbolizes a fresh start, a clean slate — the perfect time to set new goals. The most common resolutions? Exercise to get in shape, diet to lose weight, and eat healthier. You start off strong, but as many of us know, those resolutions don’t always pan out the way we intended them to. Life happens. We get busy, and before you know it February rolls around and you’ve forgotten all about those resolutions. We’re still not exercising like we wanted, our weight hasn’t budged, and our eating is less than ideal. You find yourself disappointed, unmotivated, and feeling like you’ve failed. So, what can you do to stick to your goals and make this year the year for you?
FIND YOUR WHY
Maybe you’ve decided your resolutions are to lose weight and eat better. Before you dive in head first, stop and ask yourself a few “why” questions. Why is losing weight important to you? Why do you want to eat better? Take some time to really think about it. Dig deeper than wanting to lose weight just to lose weight. Perhaps you want to lose weight because you want to physically feel better. Maybe losing weight will allow you to keep up with your grandkids, improve your self-esteem, boost your confidence. Maybe diabetes runs in your family, and eating better will help you prevent the cycle from continuing. Perhaps it’s a change for the whole family.
Challenge yourself to find at least three reasons why you want to accomplish each resolution you set. Write them down and keep them in a place you see often. When you find yourself lacking motivation, take a look at that list and remember the reasons you wanted this in the first place. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. Find your “why” and you’ll be more successful.
SET SMART GOALS
Try to set goals based on the so-called SMART criteria — which looks for objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive. For example, your goal is to lose weight, and you know your “why” is living a longer life for your family. Get specific. How much weight do you want to lose? Whatever the number, take an incremental approach to achieving it. How will you measure this? The simple answer is tracking your weight, but that doesn’t always work. Reframe your thinking and measure you progress based on how you feel, how your clothes fit, or take progress pictures. Is your goal achievable and realistic? By deciding to lose a few pounds at a time, you are allowing yourself to succeed. Keep that long-term goal in mind, but set small achievable goals along the way. Give yourself a deadline but keep it realistic. You won’t reinvent the wheel overnight, but by making small changes you’re sure to see big differences.
AVOID GIVING IN TO FAD AND SCAM DIETS
Remember there are no quick fixes, magic pills, or special diets that will give you the change you seek. Why lose the weight just to regain it and go through the work to lose it again? It’s a never-ending cycle that does more harm than good. Instead of dieting to lose weight, make healthy lifestyle changes instead. Decide to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. Reduce the amount of processed and fast food you eat. Consciously drink a little more water each day. Find movement you enjoy and do it often. By making small changes that you can stick to long-term, you will find yourself well on the way to building a healthier, happier you! •