I hope your Christmas was wonderful and your time with your loved ones well spent. We are now at that time of year when, considering all the food we have eaten in the last month, we stare at New Year’s Day on the calendar and contemplate new beginnings – mainly the NFL playoffs!
Seriously though, this is traditionally the time when people prepare their New Year’s resolutions. There are numerous reports that say the average resolution is broken within days and almost all before January ends (a time known to most of us as Super Bowl week). The most common resolution is to lose weight and/or get into shape. For me, my number one resolution for the past few years has been to finish my book about the Texas Revolution re-enactors. Once again it remains my top priority for 2019 – just as it was for 2018, 2017, 2016…
Aside from finishing my book, I’m much like the average American in my desire to lose weight, improve my fitness, read more books, and so on. All of these things are wishes, however, without plans and timelines for accomplishing them. I can resolve to lose 20 pounds next year and put it off until September, but that kind of defeats the purpose of a resolution. Last year I wanted to lose 40 pounds. I only have 55 pounds left to go!
What I failed to do was make a specific plan how I was going to lose that weight. I didn’t carefully plan my diet. I didn’t schedule time to get exercise. I didn’t make it a priority. It was just a wish, a whimsical desire. To be serious about losing weight, there are some very specific steps to take. The first would be to meet with your doctor and/or dietician to find out just how much weight you should lose, the pace you should lose it, and the best strategy for losing it. Understand that results will come slowly. I didn’t gain all my extra weight in a month and I should not expect to lose it that quickly.
What I should do in my case is plan to drop about two pounds a week at the most. I can do that by significantly reducing or eliminating sugar, artificial sweeteners, starches, and processed foods from my diet. That means giving up a lot of foods that I love, especially hamburgers, pizza, and all candies and deserts. It also means eating more natural foods, including vegetables, leafy greens, lean white meat, and so on.
Along with changing my diet, I need to start getting regular exercise. Understanding that I’m not going to run a marathon, or half-marathon, a 10K race or even a 100-yard dash by the end of January. I can schedule time for a daily walk, or to even do some simple stretches and maybe some push-ups and sit-ups. The best thing to do is write out a chart and mark your progress each day. The same goes for your food. Keep a written food diary. I think you’ll be surprised at just how much you really do eat and how bad a lot of that is for you.
Another thing you can do is keep a calendar by your bathroom scale. Weigh yourself on a regular schedule, whether it’s daily or weekly, and write it on the calendar. Eventually you will start to see progress. At the end of the year you can look back and see just how much you lost and when you lost it. It will help you analyze your eating and exercising habits.
It also helps you on your journey if you get an accountability partner. Have your spouse, sibling, or friend join you or at the very least check in on you and encourage you. This isn’t something you should do alone. Sometimes just knowing that you have to answer to someone helps keep you on course.
Working with your doctor/dietician and your accountability partner, set specific and realistic goals. Losing eight to 10 pounds a month is realistic. Losing 50 pounds in 30 days is not. Don’t kid yourself. Slow and steady wins this race. If you remain committed to losing two pounds a week, that may not seem like a lot, but it is 104 pounds a year! There are not many of us who need to lose that much. Even a pound a week is 52 pounds by next Christmas. That is easy to do.
Set a deadline for your weight loss. If you only need to lose 15 pounds, at two pounds week you should be done by around Feb. 20. Naturally there will be bumps in the road along the way. Super Bowl parties, holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions often cause us to get off track. Just get back on board. Don’t let a slight derailment end your journey. Two steps forward and one step back is still a step forward.
The same approach will work with any of your goals. For me to write my book, I need to schedule two or three days a week where I will write for two or three hours at a time. I need to put it on the calendar and schedule reminders. I need to make sure that time is treated like any other appointment. I also need an accountability partner to help keep me on task. I could probably use an editor who will treat each scheduled time like a deadline. Not only would they be keeping me on schedule, but they would be proofreading and editing my work as I go.
The point is, if you’re serious about your resolution, make a plan to achieve it, write it down, set a deadline, and get a helper. If you’re not that serious or committed, don’t bother making a resolution. All you will be doing is kidding yourself. If you start and fail, you’ll never make any progress and you will just feel worse for being unsuccessful.
On that note, I want to wish you a happy, successful and prosperous 2019! Happy New Year everybody!