1. Begin organizing your resolutions BEFORE January 1st
Start thinking about a plan as to how you are going to make the changes you want to before January 1st. If exercise is your goal, do it now. Chances are if you can incorporate it into your life right now, January will be even easier. This could be a simple as a morning walk before your day begins.
If eating healthier is your goal or losing weight, these changes take time. Pick recipes, do your shopping, make a meal plan, etc. Even if you do not start eating differently right away, at least you will be prepared. The 10 week online meal plan I offer is conveniently laid out for you, but the ingredients still need to be purchased. That could be time consuming.
If you decide to do it the first week of January you will likely be overwhelmed. This is the reason I provide you with a grocery list for each week as well. For those of you making your own meal plan, make your grocery list and do the shopping at least a week before you plan on starting.
2. Pick one new change to begin
Often we start by attempting to exercise and change our diet at the same time. This could backfire. First make the changes to your diet to ensure you are eating the right quantity, balance and variety to satisfy yourself. Once that is under control and you feel comfortable with your eating plan, you can begin exercising. Exercising will also influence hunger, quantities, etc., so doing the two of them together may make it more challenging.
I normally suggest that you eat similar foods and portions with or without exercise, but adjust your snack portions and frequency of them when your energy needs are higher.
If you find that you exercise and eat healthy, but struggle to lose weight, it could be because you are eating foods that STILL break down quicker than you need them. This is why I have a low glycemic guide on my cookbook and weight loss plan for those who are specifically looking for weight loss. With or without exercise you will benefit from eating foods that break down slower in your body. When you exercise, eat more of these meals and snacks.
3. Live by the 80/20 rule
For years I have been consulting with the advice to live by 80/20 rule: 80% of the time eat balanced and nutritious meals and snacks, and 20% of the time allow yourself to deviate. Knowing that you do NOT need to do anything 100% leaves room for dessert, unexpected meals, and going out to celebrate special occasions.
By putting pressure on yourself to be good 100% of the time, not only are you setting yourself up for failure (as this is impossible), you will associate anything that is not on your plan as a negative. This takes the pleasure away from eating those foods as well as celebrating. The key is to make this successful for life! Eating is just as much a social activity as it is a means to a physical necessity.
4. Moderation and Common Sense
In my 2nd year of university studying kinesiology, I heard my professor say “moderation and common sense are the keys to success”. This was in an exercise physiology class as we were discussing hormonal responses to food. I have never forgotten this and still recite this expression to others.
We cannot always know what the best choices are when it comes to food. Not everything has a label. We live in a fast food world – always on the go. The internet has allowed us to be able to look up almost anything imaginable (the breakdown of foods, restaurant nutritional values, etc), but there are still times when we are simply not sure. When in doubt, remember that a little bit of anything will not hurt you. For example, if pasta is the only option for you at a party and you are trying to limit your carbohydrates, just have a small portion and be careful the rest of the day. That pasta meal will not make a difference out of the 21 meals in a week! The common sense behind this phrase is understanding that a meal here or there is likely not the contributing factor for your goals: your daily breakfast, lunch and dinner at home is.
5. Eating Out
Although my 10 week online weight loss program has an eating out guide to follow and make better choices when not at home or preparing your own meals and snacks, the reality is that it is still not ideal.
In my experience, those who make a choice to eat at home more often and prepare their own lunches and snacks are significantly more successful!
Do you have someone at home or a close friend that is looking to shed some pounds as well? Do it together. This is a lifelong job. Learning to eat healthy and make changes to your nutritional well-being is not easy. No matter how many resources I offer people (10 weeks of meal plans, grocery lists, product information with exact brand names and places to purchase them, low glycemic lists, quick meal ideas, etc…), it is still a lot of work and takes devotion. In so many areas of our lives we do better when working with others and having their support. This is no exception!
Keeping a journal would be the number one tip if I were listing in order of importance. If we do not see on a day to day basis exactly what we are doing, the ability to figure out why it is not working becomes very challenging. There is no way one person can remember everything they eat and drink on a daily basis. For the most part we eat similar foods, but the quantity and additives to the meals we eat are not always the same and may be contributing to setbacks in losing weight. If we go to the doctor for any given complaint and are not able to describe the symptoms we feel, the best doctors in the world would be unable to help. When it comes to our eating habits, the only real way to monitor your weight and find what works for you in the long term is to have a record of exactly what you are doing.
In 2015 my proposal is to start off by keeping a journal every day! Nowadays there are so many great sites out there that make it easy. Alternatively a good old fashioned pen and paper works wonders.
I am a firm believer that every single plan that exists on the market is successful to some extent. All are based on some scientific principle underlying fat metabolism. The reason no specific plan works for all of us is that we all have different metabolisms and react differently to food. No plan will be your answer solely. And even if you do succeed, at some point you may need to make changes. The more educated you are, the greater your chances of finding what works best for you.
I am often asked which diet my program is closest to in terms of popular programs on the market (low carb? low calorie? high protein? food combining?). I consider the meals on my meal plan and cookbook to be a combination of them all. I have done my best to provide a little bit of everything so that each person can find what works best for them. If you can eat potatoes and pasta, feel great and lose the weight you want, than why should you avoid those foods? Many people do not have the luxury of eating those foods so I have provided alternatives to them in a delicious way.
Read articles, current books, go to lectures, etc. Educate yourself, learn about your body and you will never want to change how you eat and feel.
9. The rest of your life…
However you start to eat in 2015, ask yourself if this is how you could eat happily for the rest of your life. We often make the mistake of going on a diet to lose weight, thinking that once we lose the weight we can stop depriving ourselves or eat real food again. This will not end well. The only way to succeed is to find a way of eating that not only allows you to reach your goal, but that doesn’t make you feel like you are depriving yourself.
Perhaps being okay with losing weight slowly is the solution, as any loss is going in the right direction. The best expectation to have is to know that you are following something that works and will pay off in the end. Even ¼ to ½ lb a week is great. At the end of 52 weeks you will not be upset I promise you that!
Whether you are reading this article because you have recently signed up for my 10 week weight loss program or cookbook, or are looking for tips on how to lose weight, make sure that you have sought out the resources and tools you need. You cannot change a flat tire without tools and you cannot lose your weight without the proper information and guidance to understand your body. Unfortunately it is not as simple as “just eat healthy”.
Healthy foods can make us fat and keep us fat, just as unhealthy foods can get us thin and keep us thin. How our insides look is a different issue. What is healthy for one person is not for another. Try not to compare what anyone else is eating to reach their goals, as they may have a very different metabolism. Even exercise differs from one person to the next.
Be determined to make changes, find the resources to help you get started, find a partner to do it with, and watch yourself make the changes you deserve inside and out.