For many of us it may have been the first “normal” Christmas since the pandemic, and maybe you overindulged a little bit this year to make up for it.
Do you usually start the New Year with the best intentions when it comes to diet? Maybe you finally want to reach your ideal weight or feel confident in your favourite outfit. Unfortunately research has shown that 64% of people have given up on their New Year’s resolutions by the end January.
If you have put on a few pounds over Christmas, or during the pandemic and are looking to kickstart the new year with some weight loss then here’s how to do it successfully..
Set SMART goals
Setting smart goals means that they should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
It’s common for people to set very vague goals such as “I want to lose 10kg” or “I want to eat a more balanced diet” but in reality these are unlikely to be achieved without a clear idea of what steps you will take to make them happen.
Equally as often, I hear goal setting that is simply unrealistic, for example, “I want to get the perfect body by the end of the month” or “I want to lose 5kg each week”.
Examples of smart goals:
“I want to increase my consumption of fruit and vegetables over the next 2 months. Each week I will include an additional 1 portion of fruit/veg a day until I am consistently eating at least 5-a-day”.
“I want to include more plant-based foods in my diet. I will start by eating a plant-based evening meal every Monday. I will plan the meal over the weekend and buy the ingredients in my weekly shop”.
Don’t give up at the first hurdle
Part of success is accepting and learning from things that haven’t gone so well. Take some time to reflect on what you could do differently next time. Maybe your goal was not as realistic as you thought or maybe you just need to try again. The quicker you can draw a line underneath and move on, the better. But if you give up and decide to start again on Monday, you might be further back than when you started by the time Monday comes around.
There is no such thing as a perfect diet, so try and avoid the mentality of sticking to a strict 'diet' or over-restricting. If you do this, you are likely to set yourself up for failure. So many of my clients tell me that they have battled with their weight for years, losing some weight, gaining some weight but never really maintaining a weight they are happy with. This is commonly known as the ‘cycle of yo-yo dieting’ which I have illustrated below. If you can relate to this, then consider whether your past weight loss attempts may have been too restrictive.
Focus on adding value to your diet, not just restriction
Instead of focussing on what you need to cut out of your diet, think about what you can add in to improve the overall balance. Adding extra vegetables and lean sources of protein to your meals can really help with adding bulk, keep you feeling full, and satisfied that you have had a substantial meal. Consuming a variety of different foods, will also help to ensure that you are getting a range of different nutrients which will help to optimise your energy levels and your overall health.
Set short term goals and celebrate your success
Long-term goals are important, ultimately you want to know what you are working towards before you can work out what it will take to get you there. But if you only set a long-term goal, it might feel like you’re never going to get there. By including short-term goals as well, you can celebrate your mini successes and the more short-term goals you achieve, the closer you are to achieving your long-term goal.