Your Nutrition Goal For The New Year?
by Amy Carlson, MS, RD, LD
any of you are familiar with the "dieting cycle" you
know that January 1st of any year means new goals!
Those goals are usually headed by the number one goal of
all time "LOSE WEIGHT"!! "By the fourth of July I’ll be
30 pounds lighter", "by Easter I’ll be able to fit into
my favorite dress", "by next year I’ll be at my goal weight
and I can finally scratch it off of my goal list!" As a
registered dietitian, I get to see more New Year’s resolutions
than I care to admit. What I typically see happen is a
quick sign up at the local gym, a mass exodus to the health
food store to pick up some fat slimming pills and a thorough
investigation of the latest diet craze. Then it begins,
severe restricting, excessive exercise, and sheer will
power in action. The typical New Year’s diet lasts anywhere
from one day to three weeks. Then the "diet" is often abandoned
for a 1/2 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts and a night on the
couch instead of the gym. This leads to more disappointment
in ones’ self and a resolve to start fresh February 1st.
For many of my clients they have lived on and off this
cycle for years, trying desperately to lose weight and
get fit "once and for all".
What’s wrong with this approach?
It doesn’t take long to figure out that it just plain doesn’t work. Our bodies
were not designed for such intense abuse and given a period of time our bodies
will rebel and cause us to regain every painstaking lost pound. This approach
is restrictive, depriving, unrealistic, short term and just plain NOT FUN!
Who wants to eat celery sticks while they’re doing 60 minutes of hard aerobics
at the gym followed by more carrot sticks and maybe 2 oz of baked chicken?
Most people give up relatively quickly out of survival but instead of going
back to "moderation" they are led to eat large portions of foods they had
deprived themselves of and do zero exercise! This often leads to more weight
gain than was originally lost.
How can you get off this cycle?
First of all, throw away your New Year’s dieting resolution and pull out some
clean paper. We’re going to make some fresh goals!! The best way to get a
handle on what you’re currently doing is to keep a food diary for about a
week. Write down everything you put in your mouth without consciously changing
your eating habits. You may want to include times and general portion sizes
so you can see what your patterns are like. Go ahead and keep a record of
your exercise and your water intake as well. This will give you an overall
picture of your current health habits. Then assess what parts of your habits
need the most work? Are you skipping breakfast? Are your portions excessive?
Are you doing no exercise at all? Do you drink 8-9 cups of water every day?
Are you eating high fat foods or comfort foods late in the day? Write down
what you think might be potential problem areas that are keeping you from
reaching your weight loss goals. Then put together a fresh list of goals.
Take one or two areas that you consider realistic for you to pursue. Maybe
you want to start eating breakfast, switch to low fat dairy and start walking
4 days/week. What kind of results would you see by making these small changes?
Small changes equals big results!! Sometimes I have clients just decrease
their soda intake from 5 per day to 1 per day and within a couple of weeks
they’ve lost weight. They may add breakfast and decrease evening portions
and what do you know they start losing weight! It’s amazing how our body
responds to moderate, gradual changes. Remember your body is resistant to
sudden weight loss. It will do everything it can to stop this process. But,
your body wants to be thin!! It is counterproductive to carry excess weight
and small, gradual changes are welcomed by your body to help it reach athinner,
You may want to enlist a "health partner" to keep
you accountable and to make the process more fun. You may
also want to recruit some health care professionals to
help you get off to the right start. When is the last time
you had a thorough physical exam? Call your primary care
physician and make an appointment for your annual physical.
A personal trainer can help you put together a realistic
exercise program, get you motivated and guarantee that
you’re "doing the exercises correctly". You want to make
sure and ask your trainer about their credentials. Finally,
a registered dietitian can look over your eating habits
and help identify what areas you may want to focus on.
He or she can also help pick up on any areas of deficiency
in your diet as well as emotional reasons for your excess
weight. However you decide to approach the New Year remember...your
body wants to be thin!!
Amy B. Carlson, MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian
and consults clients in the greater Houston area. To contact Amy
for an appointment call 713.978.1713 or e-mail her at email@example.com.
View Amy's Bio
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