As a dietitian and healthcare provider, every year around February or March I see my patients’ resolve to change their eating or exercise habits begin to fade. What’s the reason for this? Why do we go through the cycle of making resolutions, only to lose our steam and pick up bad habits again?
I’ve identified some common causes for the “New Years resolution drop-out”:
- Restriction: The diet industry thrives on over-promising and under-delivering. How many men and women do you know who have successfully lost weight on a diet, only to re-gain the weight (and then some) when the diet ends? Quick results are the goal without much thought about the sustainability of a diet plan. Are you cutting out foods you love? Forcing yourself to eat foods you don’t like? Are you spending hours at the gym every day? If you answered yes to either or both of those questions, your diet and exericse routine may not last long because they’re too restrictive. Consider a plan that allows you to enjoy your favorite foods in healthy portions while introducing healthy foods that you enjoy eating. Also, find exercises you enjoy, and find a routine that doesn’t hijack the rest of your life. Chances are, you’ll make your new plan a lifestyle.
- Boredom: And that leads me to this next point. Restriction can lead to boredom, and boredom can lead to binge eating or a drop-off in exercise altogether. Not helpful for you in the long run! Again, you may lose those 10 pounds in a month with a strict diet and exercise routine, but can you follow the routine indefinitely to maintain that loss? If you can’t see yourself following the plan a year from now, it may not be the diet for you. Any changes you make to your diet should be healthy changes you can stick to. Your progress may be slower, but if you’re following the plan for life, speed doesn’t matter quite as much. You’ll get there–and then maintain it!
- Lack of Support: Many people embark on a weight loss or healthy eating plan on their own. Don’t diet alone! Make lifestyle changes with your partner or a friend, see a dietitian, hire a personal trainer, or join a weight management group. No one can make lifestyle changes sustainably without the support of others who believe in them and in the changes they’re making. It’s amazing how different your experience can be when you feel supported by those around you, and when you see others making healthy changes for themselves. Having a support group or a buddy can help you make even more progress because your support will push you further than you may push yourself.
None of us need to adopt diets and exercise routines that yield quick but root-less results. Choosing to make lifestyle changes one step at a time, including healthy foods and exercise you enjoy, and finding support for your journey will boost your confidence and your success. Click here or more tips on how to begin building sustainable healthy habits, inside and outside the gym.