The start of a New Year is always a very exciting time! Come January 1st, millions of us spend time brainstorming our intentions and make New Year's resolutions. The majority of our goals are health-related; number one being “dieting” or “healthy eating”. So why is it that so many of us have a hard time following through with our resolutions year after year? Most of our resolutions are geared towards dieting or losing weight, yet 95% of diets fail and most of us will regain the weight lost in the next 1-5 years. I am not writing this blog post or sharing this statistic to discourage you from being healthy and/or losing weight, rather I want to help you understand why diets fail and what you can do to successfully achieve your goals.
First things first, when you are setting a goal try asking yourself WHY you want to achieve this goal. It is important that your “why” is something truly meaningful that aligns with your values. An obstacle that you may face when making New Year’s goals is not reflecting on what you want, but rather focusing on what you think other people expect of you or what you see as ideal societal standards. For example, if your goal is to lose weight and your “why” is to look a certain way (skinny, thin, fit, etc.), this is not an optimal mindset. It will likely lead to feelings of guilt or shame and not following through on your goal. Here are some ideas of healthier “whys” for losing weight: improving your mental health, decreasing joint pain or risk of joint pain, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, longevity, increasing energy, being able to play with your children or grandchildren without getting tired, achieving pregnancy and having a healthy baby, managing blood sugar, being able to participate in more activities or improving athletic performance, preventing diabetes or heart disease...Do you see where I’m going with this? When you practice shifting your mindset and the reason behind your goal is something that continually drives you, you will be more motivated to take action, achieve, and maintain your goals.
Another reason many resolutions and diets do not work, and probably one of the most common things I see with my patients, is the “all or nothing” mentality. Let’s use diet as an example to explain what I mean by this. You have a goal to eat healthy, which to you means only eating whole, nutrient dense foods and no processed/packaged food, desserts, alcohol, etc. You follow through with this for a week or two, but what happens when your significant other asks to go out to dinner? Or your friends ask to have a movie or game night that normally involves snacks and wine? Your initial thought may be to not go because you have been so “perfect” with your diet, but that you also deserve a treat. A decadent meal, a few desserts and drinks later you wake up feeling guilty and like a failure.
If the cycle described above resonates with you, you are not alone. Most people have been, or currently are, stuck in this cycle. A big part of living a healthy lifestyle is having a positive relationship with food, which means finding balance and steering away from that “all or nothing” thinking. But what does this “balance” look like? It does not mean having a donut at work because your coworkers stopped at Krispy Cream on the way to work, but then running for 45 minutes after work to burn it off. Balance does not mean balancing calories in with calories out. Balance is being attuned with your body and providing it with what it needs to make you feel your best both physically and mentally. It means being able to listen to your hunger cues, allowing for eating with flexibility and the absence of remorse. It means eating less or more or different than normal without feeling judged. Diets (remember, those things that have a 5% success rate) promote restriction in some way with food, which is the opposite of balance. Making positive health and wellness changes is a process. It is what you do most of the time that impacts your long-term health. Having complete abstinence from certain foods is not sustainable and undermines your ability to achieve your goal. Developing a good relationship with food and removing yourself from this cycle will allow you to reach your goals in a long-lasting way and I can help you get there.
So, if you are one of the millions of Americans that has a New Year’s resolution that is health/nutrition related and you feel like you set the same goal every year yet are having a hard time being consistent and successful, something needs to change. My approach as a Dietitian is all about sustainability and meeting you where you are at. This means building a healthy foundation before trying to incorporate anything fancy. Making small, sustainable changes to your diet and lifestyle is a better way for most people to maintain a healthy, enjoyable way of life. I will help you eat mindfully, lower your expectations to reasonable levels, stop punishing yourself, and find joy in nourishing your body. Once you start to shift your mindset from eating healthy to lose weight and look a certain way, to eating healthy because it makes you feel good, you will start to see success.
Please call NaturoMedica at (425) 557-8900 to schedule a free 30-minute consult with me to see if I can be of assistance to you. I look forward to meeting you!