It's that time of year again when people gorge out on all of the holiday foods they possibly can. Shortly thereafter, those same people spend the first three months of the year feeling guilty about how much weight they've gained. It's inevitable that someone in your home, office or family will fall prey to the vicious dieting cycle. Since there is nothing you can do to prevent this from happening to yourself or your loved ones, the best thing to do is to try to ease the self-inflicted trauma.
- Start now - Diet and exercise is a lifestyle change. If you were a master at it, you wouldn't have gained unwanted weight in the first place. Once you have lived an extended period of time eating poorly and failing to exercise, your mind and body become content with it. So why wait until after the holidays when you've packed on more pounds and developed a deeper self-hatred to start your diet? That's unnecessary torture. Start now. Use online resources like MyFitnessPal.com to determine how many calories per day you need to achieve your weight loss goal. By giving yourself a running head start, you settle into the routine of exercising and monitoring the food you eat. You're less likely to overeat just because it's November or December. You're also more likely to be successful in your new year's weight loss resolution.
- Set a 30-day goal - Another reason diets fail is because people focus too intently on the final goal. Depending on how much weight you want to lose healthily, your goal may be months or years away. It's easy to become discouraged and quit. Weight loss is not a steady journey. There are fluctuations. By setting 30-day goals, you allow the little victories that keep you motivated.
- Skip the gym - The biggest hurdle in weight loss is self-confidence. It takes time to feel comfortable enough to go into public, despite how beautiful you don't realize you are. Even those most motivated take a serious blow to their egos the moment they see thinner, more athletic women flouncing around the gym. Skip the gym until you have at least 90 days of consistent exercise under your belt. Otherwise, you're sabotaging your diet and wasting your money.
- Play semantics - Beverage companies will have you believe that diet soda is healthier than regular soda. The fact is that soda by its very definition is unhealthy for you. At no point does the term "diet soda" imply health. It implies zero calories. Ask yourself, how that was accomplished. You can drink the regular soda with tons of sugar and go work it off, or you can drink the soda filled with brain damaging aspartame. The same goes for the terms low fat, low sodium, reduced fat and reduced sugar. These labels cause you to focus on what they took out of the product rather than what's actually in it.
- Learn to be alone - There are few things as irritating as being abandoned by your diet partner. It's subconsciously as traumatizing as a romantic break-up. You start out on cloud 9 and before you know it, you're alone, trying to work up the nerve to go it alone. It's better to start out on your own. If your friends choose to join you on your journey, welcome the company. If they drop off, you'll feel motivated to carry the torch.
- Don't ban bread - Any diet that encourages you to abandon one of the food groups is not a wise diet. Focus more on eating the recommended servings in all of the food groups. This increases your health which is more important than your weight loss. Your body is more likely to let go of unhealthy cravings when you're providing a steady flow of healthy food.
- Build muscle first - Muscles burn fat. Building long, lean, muscle mass will help burn fat easier. Alternate between yoga and other stretching exercises and weight training for the first 30 days. Changing to a cardio-friendly diet will lower your fat intake, making less work for your muscles.