Weight Loss Resolution? No Way!

Do yourself a favor this year…Do NOT resolve to lose weight.

Instead, pick two or three habits (encourage healthy eating and improved fitness) that could easily result in weight loss. Don’t know what to focus on? Well you have just enough time to find out. For the next week, faithfully use the Sparkpeople Food and Activity Tracker. Record the following:
  • The food (and how much) you eat – Weigh and measure everything
  • Every beverage you drink (juice, pop, coffee, tea, water, diet beverages)
  • When the eating episode occurred (the time you started and finished eating)
  • The location of the eating (kitchen, family room, restaurant, etc.)
  • Who did you eat with? (friends, relatives, yourself, co-workers, alone)
  • How you felt while eating (happy, sad, bored, depressed)
  • Any exercise you did
Once you have finished your record keeping, it is time to analyze the data. Hopefully you will make some startling discoveries about yourself and be ready to make some really informed decisions regarding the changes you will make in 2007.

Analysis #1: Do you meet your nutritional needs?
  • Are you getting 2 low-fat dairy products daily?
  • Are you consuming 6 ounces of lean meat or protein sources daily?
  • Are you getting 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily?
  • Are you receiving 4-6 whole grain products each day?
Sparkstep: Including a variety of foods in your diet daily will provide your body with the numerous benefits of over 50 different nutrients. Keeping your body energized and strong will help you to stay motivated and encouraged. For many, using the Food Tracker on a daily basis and sticking to a calorie goal is extremely beneficial to weight loss.

Analysis #2: How are your foods prepared?
  • How many foods are fried?
  • How many foods are breaded?
  • How many food items are covered with a sauce?
  • How many servings of sweets do you have daily?
  • How many food items come from a box, package, or can?
Sparkstep: Overloading your body on these types of food can add unwanted fat, cholesterol, salt, sugar, and calories to your diet. Some small changes in this area can benefit not only your weight but also help lower the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and high blood pressure. 

Analysis #3: What beverage choices are you making?

  • How much water are you drinking daily?
  • How many cups of tea and coffee do you consume?
  • How many cans of diet drinks to you have?
  • How many sugar-sweetened beverages do you consume daily?
  • How much 100% fruit juice do you get each day?
Sparkstep: Keeping your body hydrated is key to your health. Try to drink 8-12 cups of water daily. 100% juice does contain some nutritional benefits, but the fiber has been removed, therefore, limit yourself to 1/2 Cup daily. Sweetened juice drinks, punches, fruit cocktails are loaded with sugar and unwanted calories, so avoid these whenever possible. Coffee, tea, and diet beverages are not the best sources of fluid for the body and should be used in moderation. Limit these to 1-2 choices daily.

Analysis #4: What activities are you doing while you eat?
  • Watching TV, or your children play a team sport?
  • Working or playing on the computer?
  • Do you eat at the table, counter or sink, from the stovetop while cooking, in front of the refrigerator, while on the phone, while working from your desk, in the car?
  • Reading?
  • Balancing the checkbook, opening mail, or other multitasking?
  • Studying for tests or exams?
Sparkstep: Doing another activity while eating can be a problem for many. When you become engrossed in the other activity you may lose track of how much you are eating. Calories count whether you are standing, lying in bed, or in front of the sink. Try to make eating a deliberate event, focus on the taste and mouth-feel of each bite, and enjoy every morsel.

Analysis #5: How quickly (or slowly) do you eat your meals?
  • 1-10 minutes?
  • 11-20 minutes?
  • 21-30 minutes?
  • 31 or more minutes?
Sparkstep: It takes about 20 minutes between the time you eat and the time your brain gets the signal that you are full. If you eat very quickly, it is easy to overeat, especially if you are with slower eaters and you continue to nibble until they are finished. If you eat most of your meals in 20 minutes or less, this could be a problem for you. Try to slow down. Chew more slowly. Take a drink of water between bites. Put your fork or spoon down between bites.

Analysis #6: What is your mood before, during, and after eating?
  • Happy or joyous?
  • Sad, depressed?
  • Bored?
  • Worried, or anxious?
Sparkstep: For some people, certain feelings can lead to eating and overeating in the absence of hunger. When eating is triggered by an emotion, it is usually unplanned and frequently uncontrolled. And that means you can add a lot of extra calories to your food intake for the day. Try to determine if feelings trigger you to eat. If so develop a plan. Can you avoid the situation, go for a walk, paint your nails, take up a hobby, do a craft, or take a bath? Have an idea list ready and posted at all times.

Analysis #7: What Meal Patterns do you notice?
  • How often do you eat breakfast?
  • Do you skip lunch or dinner?
  • Do you usually have a snack?
  • How much time do you have between meals and snacks?
Sparkstep: It is important to distribute your calories throughout the day to stay nourished. Studies actually have found that you lose weight faster when calories are distributed throughout the day. By planning eating times throughout the day, you are less likely to get hungry and less likely to go on an eating binge. Try to have 3 smaller meals and 1-2 mini-snacks daily.

Analysis #8: How many minutes of Physical activity do you get each week?
  • 0 - 30 minutes
  • 31 - 60 minutes
  • 1 - 2 hours
  • 2 - 3 hours
  • 3 - 4 hours
  • 4 hours or more
Sparkstep: Physical activity can help you to lose weight by burning additional calories. It helps you to tone your body and lose inches. Exercise also raises your metabolism so you burn more calories even when you are at rest. Find out where you currently are with your fitness routine and build from there. The goal is to include 30 minutes of exercise at least 4 day each week.

Resolve to Make Realistic Resolutions
Now select the two or three  items you want to improve this year and write a "realistic resolution" for each. Be as specific as possible and make sure your resolution can be measured and tracked.
  • Post the resolution where it can be seen daily—on the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, or computer screen saver.
  • Find a buddy or pal who can assist as a cheerleader and mentor.
  • Set up a reward system for yourself. For example, every week that you meet your resolution, put a dollar in the resolution jar. When it reaches $20, treat yourself.
  • And face the facts that there will be setbacks but that doesn’t mean failure.
  • Stay focused on all the positive aspects that you have already accomplished.
Happy New Year!