Okay, time to pay off that dietary credit card. From November to New Years, many of us wrote off the Halloween candies and festive feasts as inevitable - to be repaid, with some added interest, in January.
Unfortunately, diet debt just keeps piling up, as the nearly 40% of Americans who typically resolve to lose weight succeed only 8% of the time. And the failure cliff is steep. According to one survey, a quarter of resolutions are broken within the first week, a third are toast by February, and 80% are out the window by Memorial Day.
The best diet debt reduction plan, then, provides general principles we can actually follow through on in the long term.
RESOLVE TO EAT WELL
Resolution #1. Get your daily dose
Supplement pills? Pa-leese! Your best source of vitamins and nutrients come from food. And the easiest way to make sure you're getting what you need is to have at least one piece of fruit each day. Oranges are easy to carry into work, bananas can be found at airport coffee shops, grapes are the ideal snack food, and red apples have some of the highest concentrations of antioxidants!
Resolution #2. Eat Food
If it didn't grow ... if it didn't have a mamma and a daddy ... don't eat it. Our physiology expects the fuel that was provided for it and will respond to synthetics with weight and health problems (hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup top the list of the to-be-avoided). When you are label reading, be sure to check for the ingredients that can't be found in a standard biology text, or that won't come up on your spell-checker.
Resolution #3. Kick the (Soda) Can
No one is surprised, really, that standard full-sugar sodas - along with their 10 - 14 teaspoons of sugar per 12 ounces - can lead to weight and health problems. But what really surprised people was the report that diet soda consumption was even more strongly correlated with weight gain than regular soda. Maybe it's the phosphoric acid or the synthetic sugars. In either case, a great exercise for you this year is to play "kick the can", and eliminate them altogether. Ideal replacement drinks include water, tea, milk, or juice.
RESOLVE TO RETURN HOME
Resolution #4. Return to the Family Table
Eating while distracted - while driving, playing video games, walking back to your desk - produces passive overconsumption. Moreover, eating at the table with the people you love in your life gets you in front of them so that you ... talk to each other. Weird, I know, but this also seems to be a recipe for controlling calories, and ultimately your weight.
Resolution #5. Health in the Hearth
To be healthy this year, we must remember what we have forgotten. Cooking at home is easy, more delicious than any processed food product widget you could whip out of the freezer section, and prevents the overconsumption of the preservatives, stabilizers, and chemicals that give your food the shelf life of steel-belted radials. You'll find health in the hearth. You just have to look there.
RESOLVE TO EXERCISE
Resolution #6. Go Outside and Play
You must be active to work that weight down. You don't have to be a gym rat, carry a workout bag, or smell like a sock during the day. This year, exercise scientists confirmed that we simply need to be active for about 30 minutes during a day - and those activity minutes don't even have to be consecutive! So dance. Get outside in the sunshine and move. Find what you love doing. Do that.
RESOLVE TO LOVE YOUR FOOD AGAIN
Resolution #7. Love your food, really
To love your food is to take small bites and take the time to taste it. Gulping and gobbling your biggie bag o' burger bites is about nothing more than consumption. When you eat small at the bite and take your time eating, you control consumption because pace controls portions. So set a timer if you need it, and make sure you spend more time with your meal.
Resolution #8. Plan on Seconds
Portion distortion eats away at any effort to control weight, as overeating can increase the capacity your body is hungry for in the long term. Over-portioning at the plate results when our judgment of our hunger is greater than the actually need - in other words, when your psychology overestimates your physiology. The solution for this mismatch is to "plan on seconds." Put an amount of food on your plate that you consider less than the amount you're hungry for. THAT is the amount your body needs. Take at least 20 minutes with that amount, and you won't want any more.
RESOLVE TO HANDLE STRESS
Resolution #9. LOL
Stress is bad for your heart, and stress-induced overconsumption makes it bad for your weight as well. There are many stress busters, but perhaps the most enjoyable is to laugh out loud. Regular laughter lowers the stress hormones that can lead to fat storage, boosts the immune system, and elevates mood along with your energy level. So make sure you are around upbeat individuals, fun entertainment, and look for the upside in the everyday.
Resolution #10. Take care of #1
Getting all your daily to-dos completed can seem like draining the ocean with a teaspoon. The task list never ends! The most important thing to remember is that, to be the most effective in this environment, you must take care of yourself first. When buddy-breathing underwater, as in an airplane emergency, you're instructed to tend to your own needs before helping others. The same is equally true of your day to day life - help yourself so you can better help others. Even if it's 10 minutes here and there, be kind to yourself and "fill your own cup first."
Dr. Will Clower is an award winning author, media personality, and CEO of Mediterranean Wellness