Why do you want to lose weight? This is the first and most important question to ask yourself when crafting a New Year's resolution around this intention. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine yourself with less weight on your body. How do you feel? Words like energetic, peaceful, confident, happy or attractive might come to mind. If there was a time in your life that you weighed this much, remember that time and what was so appealing about it. The why and the emotions behind your intention is what will keep you going when you lack motivation.
Now that you've got a reason to lose weight, let's explore the possibilities. There are four main ways to lose weight. You can approach this feat with exercise, nutrition, stress reduction or sleep. Which one needs the most improvement in your life? Start with just one approach so you don’t get overwhelmed and maximize success. Once you’ve adapted new habits in one area, you can work on another.
Once you’ve chosen an approach to weight loss, you need a game plan. When adding a new habit into your routine, try replacing an old one. Find something that needs to go and swap it out for a habit you no longer want to have. And keep it simple. Cleanses and extreme boot camps are great, but don’t always stand the test of time. Make small, easy changes to your routine gradually and you’re more likely to succeed. After all, you have a whole (new) year to do it.
Here are four New Year’s resolution templates, along with examples and tips for success, you can use and tweak to suit your needs.
I’ll replace ________________[insert food or beverage] with ________________ [insert food or beverage].
Note whether the food you’re eliminating is savory, salty, crunchy, creamy, etc. Replace one food with another that has a similar adjective to describe its appeal.
For example, swap:
- Soda or orange juice for herbal tea or lemon water (flavorful)
- Ice cream and cake for yogurt with fresh fruit (creamy)
- Pasta for quinoa (doughy carbs)
- Cheese for avocado (creamy)
- Chips for carrots or almonds (crunchy)
I'll go to sleep ______ minutes earlier by turning off my TV/cell phone/computer ______ minutes earlier.
Sleep helps you burn calories more efficiently. It also ensures you have enough energy to exercise and mental clarity to make mindful food choices throughout the day. Find something (usually a screen or device) that you can minimize time to get that extra sleep in each night.
Having a relaxing bedtime routine is also helpful when trying to get more sleep. Take 30 minutes before bedtime to do a few relaxing activities like taking a bath, massaging your feet, stretching or writing in a journal, which will help you make an easier transition to sleep.
Before checking social media, my smart phone or email, I'll take five to 10 deep breaths with my eyes closed.
Stress causes hormone shifts in your body that prevent weight loss. To reduce stress, choose an activity you do frequently during the day and link it with a deep breathing exercise. Closing your eyes reduces outside stimulation, creating a more relaxed state internally. Your heart rate and blood pressure have a chance to lower, which reduces stress hormone levels. Sit up tall as you breathe in to allow oxygen to circulate. With practice, you’ll remember to take a break, close your eyes and breathe when you feel frustration or anger during the day.
Instead of ________________ [watching TV, surfing the Net, etc.] I’ll ________________ [insert activity/exercise] for ______ minutes ______ times per week.
An exercise program can be as simple as taking a walk or jog three times per week. Replace something else in your life like watching TV or shopping with a physical activity that you enjoy. Or combine it with another part of your life. For example, if family time is important to you, get involved in something you can all do together such as playing a sport outside, hiking, skiing or dancing. Involving others in your fitness goals makes it more fun and sustainable. If you join a gym, group fitness classes are a great way to combine being social with getting a great workout.