Your Shape

To lose weight and to quit smoking are 2 of the top resolutions people make each January. Is one of these your resolution this year? If so, consider and keep in mind that many people will not make it past the month of January and most will give up by March.

This year can be different – keep reading!

First, what has happened other times you have decided to lose weight or exercise? Have you set your goals too high? If you plan on losing 20 pounds this month or going to the gym 5 days a week – you are setting yourself up for failure. Don’t do it! We all know

that if we fall short of our goals we can get discouraged and quit. Be realistic and know that a slow but permanent loss is much more likely to stay off, and an exercise goal of 3 days a week is much more likely to be a lifelong exercise routine. IF you exercise 3 days a week – great – more is a bonus. We all know that if you say 5 days and you miss a session you might not go all week! As for weight loss, I know we think ’the faster the better’ but except for the first 2 weeks or so when you are losing water, 1.5 to 2 pounds a week should be your goal. Please check with your doctor.

This year, realize that if you are going to lose weight you must have a plan you are comfortable sticking with forever. You will not, and I repeat, WILL NOT keep off any weight you lose long term if you lose it and then go back to your old eating habits! You have to make changes you can stick with forever. For example eating more salads and vegetables with dinner instead of more pasta, limiting the amount of non- nutritious snacks, or starting to eat a healthy breakfast daily. Eat from all food groups, stay away from the fad diets and treat junk and less nutritious foods as a treat and not as a daily staple.

Try to cut things out that do not matter. Try not eating butter. If you eat butter on bread, veggies and potatoes you may be eating 300 to 500 calories per day of butter! Switch from mayo to mustard, broil don’t fry, and eat more fish and chicken breasts rather than fattier meats. You may lose a pound a week just from these changes. Try it for 2 weeks!

Another challenge: eat NO processed, canned, fast, or boxed food for 2 weeks. If you are used to regularly eating these types of foods, by cutting them out for 2 weeks you not only will have more energy but will lose weight. This is may be a hard exercise and it takes planning, but you will be surprised how much you have gotten away from ’real’ food.

Journal your food. It may be a ’hassle’ but isn’t your health worth 4 minutes a day? How much time do you spend watching T.V., or talking to friends a day? Take those 4 minutes. The awareness you get from writing down what you eat (and the food that you don’t eat because you are writing it down) is amazing.

So, realize this year there is no miracle weight loss plan. It is eating a well balanced diet with limited ’junk food’, consistent exercise, and a lifestyle changing attitude – deciding that once and for all you will do it properly: slowly, consistently, and changing for life. I did it and lost more than 100 pounds a few years ago, so trust me when I say it is possible but only when you make changes in your diet and exercise program you can live with. Please, no drastic or temporary changes this year. Your body and mind will love you for it!

Tara McNeil, owner of "The Shape You’re In" has lost over 100 pounds and kept it off. Through personal experience and formal education she has many strategies that help with weight loss.