Updated: Mar 15
Resolution to Lose Weight? How to Succeed
Millions of people start the year with a New Years resolution to lose weight. Some might choose to spend less time on social media, or others to travel more, but the most popular New Years resolution is ultimately to become more healthy. Whether choosing to diet, exercise or a combination of both, millions of people decide this year is going to be the year they succeed in becoming a healthier and slimmer version of themselves.
Unfortunately, even with the best of intentions, most people fail - around 90% of people in fact. So why is this the case, and how can we become more likely to reach our goals.
Too much too quick
If you are one of the millions who have decided to lose weight in the new year, you’ve likely joined one of thousands of facebook pages on the subject, read a few blogs perhaps and possibly even been suckered in to buying the latest shake or diet pill. You may have simultaneously bought new running trainers, headphones and the latest smart watch. Armed with all the gear and on the 2nd January (once the New Year’s Day hangover has finally 90% cleared), you’ve drank three litres of water, eaten your breadcrumb for breakfast (or sausage if going Keto) and decided to head out for your first run. If you’re anything like me, you got to the end of your street and felt like you were going to die!
So many people make the mistake of changing every aspect of their daily habits overnight. Radically changing their diet whilst trying to add in a completely new exercise regime. It is a huge shock to the system and its going to hit you hard.
Understanding why it is so hard, makes it easier to overcome and power through. Firstly, it is likely you are going to suffer from some serious sugar withdrawal. I remember this stage so well, the three day long headache as my body got used to the dramatic cut in sugar. My constant running to the toilet as I was trying to get used to drinking so much more fluid, believing it was essential to weight loss to drink so much more. The feeling of incredible hunger whilst my stomach shrunk and got used to smaller portions. After the first couple of days, when the excitement of how fabulous the new me would look and the determination I had initially felt started to evaporate, the sugar and caffeine withdrawal was a pretty miserable experience.
I personally chose calorie counting as my diet regime, which I believe is less of a shock to the system than alternatives such as Keto or meal replacement shakes. Although there is no arguing with the effectiveness of those diets, at least in the short-term anyway, the radical change these diets require makes them an awfully lot harder to stick to. I myself believe, and research supports this also, that a calorie controlled diet is most likely to lead to longer-term success. No foods are banned, and it is more of a portion control method of eating, which is far more sustainable. See my post for more information on a calorie controlled diet and using My Fitness Pal.
Some combine this new diet, with an immediate entry into a new fitness regime. This may include signing up to a gym, joining a boot-camp or even attempting to just head outside and run immediately, which again is a bit of a shock for the mind and the body.
How to start slowly
Exercise is not completely necessary to loose weight, at least initially. I personally started with my calories, and just tried to walk more. Two laps of the field with the dog instead of one, walking on the school run instead of driving. I would step on the spot whilst doing things around the house, like folding washing or making a coffee. Eventually, after losing around 28lbs, I downloaded the couch-to-five-K app free online, and started doing that around the field on the morning dog walk three times a week. It was incredibly hard for me, my fitness was nearly non-existent, but gradually I built it up. When you feel ready to incorporate some time during the day for exercise, try and do this at the same time each day. I personally have to exercise first thing in the morning after a bowl of cereal and a coffee. If I try before breakfast I find it harder, and if I wait until after lunch I will talk myself out of doing it. Exercising around the same time on certain days helps it to become a habit that you get used to doing and it feels less of an effort to get up and do it.
If running is not your thing, there are gyms that allow monthly memberships without a long-term sign up. Pure Gym is one of them and is a fantastic place to start. They have exercise classes running throughout the day such as, spin classes, body pump, yoga, and Zumba. Alternatively, there are online platforms such as the Courtney Black App which is fantastic for both beginners and existing gym bunnies to workout at home.
Don’t waste your money
Please don’t waste your money, or risk your health, on diet pills. These are often a waste of time, and at worse can present a significant risk to your health. I am a member of many weight loss groups on Facebook and am shocked at how often these dreadful supplements are forced on people.
Also, meal replacement shakes are, in my opinion, a further waste of money. Often expensive and vile tasting, they are completely unnecessary. You would be better off skipping breakfast, or substituting it with a piece of fruit. Eating a 200cal protein bar for lunch and just having your normal dinner, but less of it.
Losing weight is hard. There is no quick fix out there. The Facebook posts asking who is interested in losing weight without changing your diet or exercising are a complete load of crap! If it was that easy, there would not be operations such as gastric-bands and health issues such as type 2 diabetes.
Don’t be afraid to take a day off occasionally. Enjoy a meal out or a takeaway. You haven’t failed just because you have relaxed one evening. Life is about balance, and you can not be expected to be a saint all the time. I would have a takeaway most Fridays and occasionally have a weekend off if we went away.
Slimming world and weight watchers are good options for some, particularly those who require a weekly weigh in to stay accountable. However, be aware, it is still possible to overeat with slimming world due to their method of having ‘free foods’. Ultimately, every diet is calories in vs calories out.
Take progress pictures throughout your journey. I wish I took more at the beginning.
Document your progress
There is nothing more encouraging then beginning to see the changes in your body. It is often in the first few weeks, before any obvious physical changes, and before your new regime has become a habit, when people fail. People thrive on routine and reward, which is why the beginning of any new diet is the hardest.
I have huge regrets that I didn’t take any real ‘before’ pictures. Unfortunately, my own negative feelings towards my body couldn’t bare to document what I looked like at that time, but now I have achieved so much, I wish I had.
Take measurements also, it is surprisingly how quickly they change.
How often you choose to weigh yourself is up to you, but I personally jumped on the scales every morning. Weight fluctuates so much and even eating a portion controlled salty gammon meal would make me retain a bit of water and appear to stall my weight loss. Weighing daily allowed me to take the average over the week, and account for constipation, extra fluid and even a couple pounds gain during my menstrual cycle. I think I would have felt very deflated at times if I weighed once a week without taking an average weight.
Remember why you started
During the hard times, remind yourself what made you start in the first place. Perhaps it is wanting to be able to run around with your kids, to be a good role model to them. Perhaps you have been feeling low in confidence for a while. Maybe you have had a recent health scare due to being overweight. Whatever your reasons for starting, they were good and valid reasons. Hold onto them, and remember that it is worth it!
Also remember you are not alone. Millions of other people are in the same boat as you and were perhaps not brave enough to start in the first place. Find support, whether that is with your partner, your kids, your friends, or online.
My New Years resolution is to stop procrastinating...
But I’ll wait until tomorrow to start.