January 2011

Brand New Year, Same Old Resolution? Make This The Last Year You Resolve To Lose Weight

Author: Linda S. Hopkins

At the stroke of midnight December 31, millions of people resolved to lose weight—again. The sad truth is that a great majority of those people will be making the same resolution next year. Why? Because they go about it in an unrealistic and/or incomplete way.

As a coach, I see countless clients who have been on the weight-loss roller coaster for years, losing weight on this diet or that one, only to find it again as soon as they finish the course. That’s because a real and lasting change was never made.

You see, weight loss is never just about food or exercise. And it is never just about information. If it were, we could all just read a book (or article), follow the instructions and be slim and trim forever. For weight loss to be permanent, the change must begin on the inside—with your thoughts, beliefs and habits. Here are some strategies for making the lifestyle changes and mind shifts necessary to reach your goal once and for all:

For many people, the most dreaded word in the English language is diet. Nothing conjures up a state of misery faster than the thought of giving up pancakes and pizza for protein shakes and fiber supplements.

But the reality is, to lose weight, you must evaluate the fuel you are putting into your body—not only the quantity, but the quality. People say that diets don’t work. They say this because the vast majority who go on one eventually fall off the wagon and gain the weight back.

The truth is, diets work great. While some work better for one person than another because of biochemical differences, any program that restricts caloric intake will be effective to some degree. I dare say that you could succeed (temporarily) on one of those nonsense plans like The Twinkie Diet, but please don’t try it. Besides wrecking your health and metabolism, eventually you are going to crave some real food, and by then you will be out of control. Beware of quick fixes and instant solutions that sound too good to be true. They are.

That said, many reputable diet programs are available. Choose one and follow it to the letter. You will lose weight. The key is to use the diet plan as a starting point for the process of change. A diet should not have an end. It should be a transition into a healthy lifestyle that you can enjoy and sustain for the rest of your life.

Notice I said enjoy. Yes, food is glorious and should provide pleasure as well as nourishment. The trick is to strike a balance between the two. Finding your optimal balance will likely require you to change your relationship with food and with your body. By learning to feed yourself exactly what you need physically, emotionally and spiritually, you can take charge of your health and well-being.

Mind shift: Instead of associating diets with deprivation, start thinking of the word as an acronym for Daily Intake of Essential Things. In addition to food, what’s essential for you could be more sleep, something to do or someone to do it with, a career change, a massage or a hug. Rather than focus on what you might have to give up, think in terms of what you can add in the areas of self-care and what you have to gain when you lose that extra load you’ve been lugging around. Benefits are sure to include better health, more energy and greater confidence.

People often ask, “What is the best exercise for weight loss?” The answer is, “The one you will stick with.” Whether it is walking, bicycling, dancing, skating, participating in a team sport, playing Frisbee with your dog or chasing your child around the yard, do your body a favor and fall in love with exercise. Not only will you burn more calories and boost your metabolism, but you’ll gain more energy and a renewed zest for life.

If it’s been a while since you’ve moved a muscle other than your remote control thumb or if you are carrying an excessive amount of extra weight, start slowly. Take a walk, make an extra trip or two up and down the nearest staircase, do some gentle water exercises. Let your doctor know you want to start exercising, and get his or her recommendations. Once you get moving, you can explore all the available options.

A good starting place is the gym. If the word gym conjures images of muscle heads and 20-year-old fitness models, you may be surprised to learn that today’s gyms are filled with people just like you. And the variety of programs offered includes something for every age and fitness level. Group fitness classes provide a fantastic way to try out different kinds of exercise and find your passion plus the opportunity to enjoy the energy and camaraderie of the group. For a more individualized approach, consider hiring a personal trainer who can design a program just for you. Even if you have injuries or limitations, you can move something!

Mind shift: Instead of viewing exercise as punishment for eating or as a way to “earn” food, see it as something you love to do and look forward to because it makes you feel so good.

Achieving your weight-loss goal is a process that involves getting clear on what you really want and why and then taking consistent actions to get there. Good coaching provides the clarity, focus and structure to keep you on track. By mixing and matching available resources, including eating plans, exercise programs and other self-care regimes, your coach will help you find what works best for you.

Want to make this the last year you resolve to lose weight? Call me for a free introductory session.

Linda S. Hopkins is a certified life coach, specializing in women’s weight loss, fitness, body image and self esteem. She offers private and group coaching packages. For more information, visit lifescapescoaching.com or call (843) 686-5958.

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