It's New Years Eve, and the time of resolutions is upon us.
I know many of my friends will be making resolutions to lose weight in 2016... to you may I make a suggestion? DON'T.
Hang with me here.
A resolution to lose weight is all wrong because you're not wording it right...and the way you word a goal says everything about how you will approach it.
When you say you want to lose weight, you imply that a magic number on a scale is your end goal...and that my friends isn't a good goal to have because fitness and good health are NOT determined by a magic number on the scale
Why do Yo-yo dieters yo-yo? Because they buy into the lie that many marketers have told us: when you reach your magic number, you're done. You're perfect. You don't need to do anything else.
I am as guilty as anyone for believing this lie...but throughout this year, as I have been on my own journey for health, I have learned that using a number on a scale as a barometer of your health is a slippery slope.
Because of poor treatment from a doctor that specialized in insulin resistance 13 years ago, I began a very dangerous and unhealthy path to "health"...
The numbers on the BMI chart ruled my life and I was given no assistance to figuring out how to properly exercise. I honestly feel I was cheated in so many ways and my parents (who were paying for treatment for my condition) were duped out of thousands of dollars by a doctor who was basically doing the bare minimum. I did receive ONE consultation on nutrition as part of my treatment and was given a vague guide of how I should be eating to reverse my condition, but when my first month of work didn't yield the results the doctor wanted to see his exact words were "I hope in 3 months when you come back, we will be seeing ALOT less of you, if you catch my drift." (ie lose weight fatty) it was crushing and began a very unhealthy relationship with food and exercise that I continued up until I married Jeff... that was the point I decided I was done trying and I was sick and tired of being miserable and sick and tired.
In my journey this year, I have met many trainers and nutritionists who have all said the same things:
1) they wish that doctors and the average layman alike would stop relying so heavily on the BMI chart, as it doesn't take into account several key factors such as body type, existing muscle mass, and how and where fat is being stored on the body.
2) there is no "magic number" on the scale. You need to make LIFESTYLE CHANGES that will be sustainable until the day you die regardless of the number on the scale.
So- what do I say if my goal isn't to lose weight?
Your goal could be simply to become more healthy, or physically fit... the biggest thing about these goals is they are attainable. There are subgoals you can work on so you don't have to change everything all at once and, by having a sublist of little things you will work on slowly but surely, you make the goal more reachable. You can't fail at your resolution if you have made small steps and those small steps will and should result in some weight loss, without there being a major focus on a magic number.
So- how can you get more healthy and physically fit for 2016? Let me give you a few sub goals to get you started.
1) weight loss is 80% nutrition and 20% physical exertion. You need to get a good nutrition plan NOT a diet. Diets aren't sustainable. If you look at a nutrition plan and you don't think you could eat like that for the rest of your life, then you need to find something else. Diets don't work. You always feel you're depriving yourself and you always end up feeling guilty when you "cheat", and then give up. I strongly suggest looking into Portion Fix by Beach Body or 21 Day Fix (they are the same nutrition plan) It will change the way you view food in relation to exercise and in general. Best of all, you don't have to deprive yourself of anything on the plan. It is sustainable for the rest of your life. If you don't have the funds to buy Portion Fix or 21 Day Fix, then utilize free resources like the government website Myplate. Doctors aren't just blowing smoke when they suggest 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day or 3 a day of dairy...maybe make it a goal to add these elements to your diet and stop buying junk food like chips to snack on and I promise you will feel so much better...you may even drop a few pounds...
2) Strength training is essential. As a society we have become obsessed with cardio. Yes- you want a healthy heart (which is what cardio does) but you also need your metabolism firing faster. That is accomplished by strengthening muscles. The stronger your muscles are, the more calories your cardio will burn and the more calories every day activities will burn. Most trainers I have talked to have said you need to be doing strength training 3 days a week and cardio 2 days a week with 2 active rest days (using exercise like yoga, walking or Pilates on rest days) Take the time to go to Amazon and invest in a variety of sizes of weights. You may only be able to lift a max of 3-5 lbs at first as you exercise, and that is okay. You will get stronger. Remember, your end goal is to be healthier and sustain your lifestyle- you don't need to be superman/woman right away.
3) STOP USING SHOWS LIKE BIGGEST LOSER AS A BAROMETER FOR YOUR SUCCESS! These people eat very little and exercise 8 hours a day. Even Jillian Michaels ended her association with the show over her concern for the long term health of the participants. I'm sorry.. losing12-20 lbs in two weeks is NOT reasonable, healthy or viable. Maybe think of avoiding the scale as you begin this journey. Focus on how you feel. I promise that once you realize how much better you're feeling, this will become addictive. Your progress may be slower than you like, but if you focus on how much better youre feeling, and how much stronger youre getting, you will have the motivation to keep working. The tortoise taught us a valuable lesson as children- slow and steady wins the race...and that is how weight loss should be.
Now, someone significantly overweight may lose 10 lbs in 2 weeks at first- but don't become discouraged if your numbers are like that at first and then you only lose 1 or 2 lbs. You have your whole life to live in your body. You can't realistically lose 10 lbs every 2 weeks until the day you die...you metabolism will equalize but see the section above on strength training for how you keep it revved...
4) Do what feels good and right for you. You know what- it's totally okay to eat that burger! Seriously- I'm not even lying. But remember that 80/20 rule above in regards to nutrition and exercise? It applies here too. If you're eating well 80% of the time you can enjoy things that are "bad" for you here and there. There are also ways to make the "bad" stuff less bad. Use half a bun instead of the whole, ask for extra lettuce and tomato, opt for a side salad instead of fries or no side at all...there are always healthy substitutes. Embrace them.
5) Drink water! Seriously, if you make 1 change at the beginning of the new year, make that change be drinking enough water. Take your weight, divide it by 2. Ideally, you should be drinking AT LEAST that much in ounces of water each day to keep your own body hydrated. I aim for a gallon each day...and many of my trainer friends do too.
Cut down the soda- seriously, most people that drink 1-2 sodas a day and cut it down to 1 a week lose about 10 lbs in their first month. I, personally, make it a game. I can't have a soda unless I have had x number of ounces of water. It works. I promise.
6) Love your body- seriously, even the most unhealthy individual has a body that does so much for them every day. Honor that. If you can only make it through 5 minutes of cardio one day and 10 minutes of a strength training video the next, don't be discouraged! Thank your body for that 5 minutes. Notice how much better you feel and how much more energized you are and be grateful. Make it a goal for 1 more rep or 1 more minute next time! Push yourself and then honor what your body did. You are a beautiful wonderful machine. You are capable of amazing things. If youre doing something you've never done, its going to take time to build up stamina and muscle memory- and that is okay. Find joy in the journey by loving what you are able to do and rejoicing as little by little you can do more.
7) Stop chasing the quick fix. How many years did it take for you to put that weight on? It didn't come on in a few weeks or a month...don't expect it all to come off in that time. Anyone who tells you that they can help you lose weight without changing your nutrition or adding some physical activity is selling something that won't work. Don't waste your money. Instead of $50 on that bottle of miracle pills, spend $50 on a new set of weights for your house. You'll get a lot more out of those weights than you will the pills. I promise.
Oh, my friends. How I wish we could change the world. I wish we didn't live in a society so hyperfocused on weight because there is so much more going on. You can be skinny and wholly un healthy and miserable (I've been there ) and you CAN be overweight and feel better than you ever have in your life (I'm there now). Yes- I want to lose more weight, but I know a magic number cannot and should not be my goal. My goal is to continue my quest to health and fitness.
This year I have effectively "cured" my insulin resistance/pre diabetes. I haven't lost a ton of weight (granted for 7 months of this year I was pregnant) but I made lifestyle changes and nutritional changes that reversed the negative process going on in my body. I am looking forward to continuing that process.
Make a goal that can become a habit. Fitness and health are results of good habits that sustain you for your whole life- not just until you hit a number.
Happy New Year, darlings! Here's to new adventures!