How to make your New Year's resolution to lose weight work for you
As the year comes to its end, many people promise themselves to lose weight in the New Year, especially after they managed to gain some during the Holiday Season. This is a time of New Year Resolutions and we all are in a festive mood. The beginning of a New Year seems to be a perfect time to make a new start and introduce some important changes to one's life. Weight loss is an issue that is becoming acute for many people. According to the latest statistics
- 58 million people in the USA are overweight
- 40 million are obese
- 3 million morbidly obese
- 400,000 people (mostly males) weight more than 400 pounds
- the average weight of adult female in the USA is 163 pounds
- 80 per cent of people over 25 are overweight
- obesity among children and adolescents is on the rise
- there is 76 per cent increase in Type 2 diabetes in adults 30-40 years old
Obesity is a major risk factor for many diseases including cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and Type 2 diabetes.
As we age, our metabolism often slows dawn and it is more difficult to lose weight now than it was when we were in our twenties or thirties. It is important to understand these physiological changes and to adjust our nutrition accordingly. We need to supplement with digestive enzymes to help our system digest the foods we eat. We may have to add herbs and spices that will enhance our digestion and increase metabolism. We need to exercise more and eat less than we used to if we want to keep the weight off and stay fit. We may have to evaluate our emotional relationship with food and take an honest look at our own behavioral patterns. And we need to educate ourselves not only to understand our nutritional needs, but to understand what wrong foods can do to our bodies.
There are many reasons why people become overweight. Here are some:
- unhealthy diet
- lack of exercise
- extreme stress
- emotional overeating
- genetic predisposition to obesity
- pre-diabetic state or Type 2 diabetes
- under active thyroid gland
- intestinal parasites
- candida infection
- food intolerance and allergies
Going on a radical diet may be necessary in some cases, however, I do not advocate any long term food deprivation or meal replacements. Initially you may be able to loose some weight with diet pills and drinks, but very often you will gain it back as soon as you revert to your regular daily food. Diet pills may be very appealing as they promise rapid weight loss with very little effort. They may, however, have serious side effects. One may become dependent on pills and lose the ability to properly absorb the nutrients.
If you want to lose weight permanently, you need to change your lifestyle, your relationship with food, and the way you perceive yourself. Changing behaviors that were formed over many years is not very easy and you may need support. Any drastic change is ineffective as it creates stress and resistance to change. Sooner or later you will sabotage your own resolution and return to your comfort zone where you can safely and comfortably indulge in foods that may be making you sick or overweight. The changes you need to implement must be gradual. And you will have to take them one step at the time. You should celebrate your progress and be careful not to add more stress to your life.
Things to consider if you want to lose weight permanently
- Make a sincere decision to lose weight and commit yourself: explain why it is important for you to lose weight. Write down your reasons for weight loss and keep them in a visible place. This will help you to stay determined.
- Set a realistic goal: it is considered that a healthy way to lose weight is to lose about 2 pounds of fat a week. Taking this into consideration, calculate the weight you want to lose and the period of time you allot yourself to reach your goal. Be as precise as you can. It is not enough to tell yourself that you want to be slim by the time the winter is over. This is too vague. Instead, tell yourself that you want to lose 20 pounds by the 1st April. This is not only a realistic goal, but a way to devise a schedule. You can easily manage weight loss in small "chunks" and watch your progress.
- Create a journal: this is the best way to watch your progress and write down your emotions and observations. Make a food diary and write down what you eat and how you feel about it. As you try to stay on track, you may realize that it is not always easy to lose weight or to stick to the regimen that you designed for yourself. You may experience emotions that are difficult to handle and you may want to write about them. As your appearance changes, you may want to write about your experience.
- Make your decision public: tell your relatives and friends that you intend to lose weight and ask them for support. They will help you watch your progress. This in turn will help you stay committed and motivated on days when you feel like giving up.
- Join a support group: many people tried to lose weight more than once. Meeting and talking to people who have the same goal will help you stay resolved. People who try to lose extra pounds will understand your "struggle". Learning about their success stories will inspire you to succeed.
- Sign up for a gym or a yoga class. Commit yourself to some form of exercise: signing up for a gym or a yoga class will help you not only to lose some calories, but also to increase your overall fitness and cardiovascular health. If you did not exercise for a long time, you may want to start very slowly and you will need a coach who will see to it that you do not injure yourself.
- Learn about food: it is important to reduce your daily caloric intake. Learn what foods deliver empty calories and little nutrients. Learn what the body needs in order to function properly. Learn what are the best foods to deliver these nutrients. Understanding your nutritional needs will help you to chose foods that will support weight loss and a healthy weight in the future.
- Reward yourself: As you follow your regimen and lose weight gradually, you should celebrate your progress and reward yourself. Your rewards should not be related to food. You do not "deserve" a chocolate cake because you lost 5 pounds in two weeks. You must learn to break the pattern of emotional eating. Food is there to nourish your body and not to comfort you, even if some foods are perfect to make feel better in times of distress, for instance. Instead, give yourself an hour in a beauty salon, or an hour of a shiatsu massage. Celebrate with a weekend in a spa or give yourself a new gym outfit. Go for a walk or take another yoga class.
You are only one meal away from being a healthy eater
It takes some time to modify behavior. Your goal is to develop healthy eating habits and to move and exercise more. It is believed that it may take about 21-28 days to recondition and form a new habit. You have to reinforce your new behavior constantly and support it with a new set of beliefs about food and about yourself. Counting calories alone will not help you very much. Remember that you eat to nourish yourself. Choose your food accordingly. Your food must deliver energy, proteins, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, enzymes, and other nutrients that will help your body function properly and stay healthy. Add fruit and vegetable to your diet and eat them raw as often as you can. Choose fish and poultry over red meat and pork, olive oil over butter, whole grain over white bread, an apple over potato chips, frozen yogurt over ice cream. Reduce sugar and fat consumption. Learn about food to understand your dietary needs. Increase your physical activity. Chose to walk more often and spend some active time outdoors. Exercise does not only help you burn excess fat calories. It also works on cellular level. Increased physical activity improves insulin sensitivity. This in turn helps you lose weight gradually as the body is regaining its capability to utilize energy.
Healthy, balanced nutrition and sufficient physical activity are essential if you want to reduce your weight. However, if you objectively feel that even after implementing all these lifestyle changes you are not loosing any weight at all, you may be suffering from an under active thyroid or hormonal imbalance. Women with estrogen dominance have sluggish metabolism, suffer from bloating, and water retention. Another cause of weight gain are intestinal parasites, including candida. You may also have undetected intolerance to some foods that causes systemic inflammation in your body and consequently, weight gain. You may suffer from undetected Type 2 diabetes. Since you cannot determine the cause by yourself, you may have to consult your health care provider who will conduct some tests. It is very important to find out the reason for your weight gain and understand why it is difficult for you to lose weight. Unless you do, you will struggle unnecessarily from one diet to another without much success, but with a serious damage to your health.
You may also want to consult a certified health care provider before you set out on an exercise or a diet plan. Regular monitoring of your health may be necessary if you are very obese or have some health issues. A certified dietitian will help you to determine your metabolic type and your nutritional needs. He or she will devise a nutritional plan for you and help you with your shopping lists. This will take the uncertainty and the stress out of your daily routine. In short time you will be able to develop your own intuition and make your own judgments about the foods you should avoid. A gym or a yoga instructor will devise an exercise program and make sure that you do not injure yourself.
Nutritional supplements for effective weight loss
While you are gradually losing weight and your body is learning to utilize nutrients, you may want to support your weight loss program with natural supplements that will help you enhance your metabolism. Here some supplements you may want to consider:
- Digestive enzymes, especially Lipase, Amylase, and Protease to help digestion of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins
- Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) to help convert food into energy
- L-tyrosine to support the thyroid gland and enhance metabolism
- 5-HTP to restore serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin deficiency is associated with carbohydrate cravings.
- Chromium polynicotinate to improve the sugar and fat metabolism
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) to help decrease body fat
- L-carnitine to assist in energy conversion and speed up metabolism
- CoQ 10 to assist in energy production
- 7-keto DHEA to increase metabolism
- Omega-3 hexane-free fish oil to maintain the production of hormones that are responsible for regulating major body functions, such as digestion, insulin production and the storage of fat in the body.
- Medium Chain Triglycerides (MTCS) to increase metabolism
- Thermogenic herbs such as Garcinia cambogia or green tea to boost metabolism
- Hoodia gordonii to suppress appetite
- Dietary fiber to help digestion and elimination
- L-glutamine to prevent muscle deterioration while on diet
- DMAE to enhance firmness of skin during weight loss
Two very important aspects of a successful weight loss are your determination and motivation to lose weight. If you think you will not be able to do it all by yourself or if you live in an unsupportive environment, you may have to look for a health coach, sign up for a supervised weight loss program, and join a support group. Having the certainty that there is someone who can help you in the moments of self-doubt will help you enormously to stay motivated. You may want to join an exercise group or a healthy-cooking class to get all the support you need. It may also be necessary to seek help from a certified psychotherapist who could help you understand your emotions and your relationship with food. You may even want to consider a hypnotherapy. But whatever you decide to do, promise yourself to make the next year the healthiest year of your life.
By Dominique Allmon
*This information is for educational purpose only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease. Remember to consult a certified health care practitioner before embarking on a weight loss program.
How to Successfully Lose Weight and Keep it Off by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.