It’s that time of year again…”New Year NEW YOU!” Be prepared for the increase in weight loss commercials, at-home-gym commercials, various media outlets pushing the newest diet or supplement. Every year MILLIONS of people vow to take control of their health and set New Years resolutions for weight loss, and unfortunately even just a couple weeks in a majority have already given up. So how can you set realistic goals for your resolution? The key word is realistic. It’s fine to have an end goal, like getting into a bikini or special dress…but for many people that will take quite a bit of time, and it can be overwhelming and very difficult to stay motivated… So here are some tips you may find helpful:
- Step 1: Hydration…
If you haven’t been drinking a lot of water, then goal #1 should be to get to at least 64oz of water per day. Keeping water as your main source of fluid track how much you get in by just switching to water. (if you got in 32oz, then you’re half way there). Slowly increase your water intake over the next week or so, so it’s not a huge shock to the system, until you get to 64oz…from now on, that is the minimum you should be getting in per day. When you’re well hydrated your digestion is more efficient, all of your organs (eyes, skin, & internal organs) function better, and staying hydrated is known to help with energy and headaches.
- Step 2: Changing your eating habits…
Simply eating clean won’t likely result in the changes you’re looking for. Most people skip breakfast and only eat 1-2 meals per day, that’s not ideal for proper metabolism. So, after you’ve cleaned out your cabinets and fridge…purging your house of processed foods and chemicals (see Sugar blog, Sugar Alternative blog, BVO blog), then restocking with whole foods, you’ll be ready to tackle eating 4-5 small meals per day. If you would like to know more about why “diets” don’t work visit the following blogs I have written: Calorie 4 Calorie, Diets, Restricted Calories & Meal Skipping.
The best way to implement the many strategies you find out there for losing weight is to start with one that you feel is manageable and build from there. Don’t worry about the scale, worrying is counterproductive for weight loss…strive to lose inches and forget the scale!
- Step 3: Be reasonable… Lets face it, you are going to fall off the wagon…You are going to want a cheeseburger or ice cream, just don’t beat yourself up when you indulge! Cheat, and then move on 🙂 I’ve also written a blog on emotional & binge eating, which is something that many struggle with when “dieting” or making a change in eating habits…binge eating is when you cheat for multiple meals and/or for multiple days, vs cheating which is normally just one meal (or a part of a meal…like a side of fried or mac-n-cheese) once in a week, or something you do every couple weeks. None of us are perfect, and unless your are finding ways to amend healthy recipes to replace those comfort foods, you will have a very difficult time sticking to your plan, unless you indulge yourself once in a while. When I start seeing a new patient, after a few weeks they typically start talking about a cheeseburger, ice cream, french fries, or something equally sinful…and they’re normally shocked when I tell them to go out and get one 😉 Once they indulge that craving they move on, and normally it leaves them feeling a little sick because they’re not used to all of that fat, sodium, and sugar anymore. Which helps in two ways…1- that craving is satisfied completely, they are no longer craving that food so they will likely not binge trying to fill that void…2- they will remember how they felt after they ate said food, and will probably talk themselves out of it because they know they will feel like junk afterward.
- Step 4: Sleep… Sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Sleep reduces inflammation, allows tissue repair, muscle growth, protein synthesis, promotes increased cognitive function, memory, and brain plasticity. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to obesity, weight gain, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, and decreased ability to make decisions as well as a decrease in coordination.
So, try to develop a routine for sleep. Go to bed the same time every night, you can go to bed up to 30 minutes later on the weekends without messing up the schedule, and the same goes for sleeping in, try not to sleep 30min- 1hr longer than normal. 8 hours of sleep is optimal for most, so try to get in 8 hours…it may take quite a bit of time to adjust, but sticking to a regular schedule will make it easier. Melatonin can help with obtaining a deeper sleep, as it is a hormone that the body produces to help us reach Stage IV sleep (REM)…the best Melatonin I have found is one we carry here called Melatonin PR. It is an enteric coated extended release tablet, that releases for 6 hours. I noticed a difference the first night I took this stuff, and over time slept better and better as I took it.
Although sleep is mentioned 4th, it is honestly the most important…but the reason I listed it last is because in order to get optimal sleep…diet and hydration really need to be corrected before you will see the best benefits of sleep. What you eat and when you eat it, alter how well you sleep. As a general rule, you should not eat within 2 hours of bed…4 hours is optimal, but 2 hours is enough to allow your body to metabolize what you’ve eaten. If you have to eat a couple of crackers at bed with your medicine or supplements, that’s okay…but no more than 2 saltines.
A majority of people will need to take a few months to slowly implement all of these things before they’re able to be fully functioning in each step…very few people (and I mean VERY few) are able to take all of these things and implement them into their life tomorrow and be successful. Most of us will try, get discouraged and before you know it we’re right back in the same routine that got us in the trouble we’re in today. So start slow, take it one day at a time. Be conscious about your food choices. And start today…progress may be slow at first, but it’s still progress. Set weight loss goals in 5-1olbs increments, and you will be at your goal in no time! Happy New Year! And here’s to a new you 😉