A New Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

Many of the “lifestyle” magazines andtelevision programs that you see from nowuntil February are likely to feature NewYear’s makeover diets. These diets will bepromoted as “the one” sure to make youslim for life and to be easier to follow than allthe rest.

I don’t need to tell you all the reasons thatmany people with diabetes can benefit fromweight loss or additional physical activity,but remember—a 5 to 10 percent weightloss (or 10 to 20 pounds for a 200-poundperson) can help lower blood pressure,blood glucose and cholesterol and canreduce the risk of heart disease.

This year, instead of vowing to makemultiple changes toward a healthierlifestyle, you might consider a newapproach. Try making only one change andthen taking regular steps to maintain it.

Changing for Success

Plan for change. First identify the oneaction that would have the most impacton your life and health. Find a quiet timeto think this over. Ask yourself, “Whatone action could I take that would mostsignificantly affect my health for the better?”

Plan for success. After identifying thataction, write down your plans for achievingsuccess. If emotional eating is a problem foryou, you can talk with a friend or perhapsconsult with a therapist or dietitian who canhelp you learn better coping skills.

Plan for setbacks. Things don’t always goas planned. Stress gets the best of you andyou go back to your old habit of late-nightsnacking. You overeat, forget to go for yourdaily walk or skip breakfast. Before thishappens, write down a strategy for gettingback on track.

A relapse does not mean failure. It is simplya part of making a change. Planning for itcan help you get back on track faster.

Choosing a healthier lifestyle takesboth a positive attitude and a personalcommitment. It also takes time. We oftenprefer things to happen fast and we easilybecome impatient with a more gradualprocess. However, it’s usually the slowerchanges that remain lifestyle habits.Focus on only one action that will make adifference and practice that habit all year.Next year, if you choose, you can always takeanother small step.

I’ve heard that small changes in lifestyle can really addup, but is that actually true? I would rather go on a dietand lose 10 pounds really fast and just get it over with.

In a Hurry

Here’s how a small change can really make a difference. Let’s sayyou decide to stop snacking throughout the day and instead eatonly three meals and a snack. Your old routine typically resulted in 2,800calories consumed daily, and the new eating plan results in 2,600 caloriesa day.

Not a big change, you might think.

Think again. Those 200 calories a day add up to 1,400 calories a week or72,800 calories per year. That difference alone could result in 21 fewerpounds by the end of the year.

Or, let’s say you commit to walking four times a week for 20 minutes; youburn 100 extra calories each time, which adds up to 400 additional caloriesburned each week. In a year, your 20-minute strolls could leave you sixpounds lighter.

Research tells us that quick weight loss often results in regaining morethan was lost, while slow, steady weight loss is more apt to result in long termresults.

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