Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions

Don’t Make Them If You’re Gonna Break Them

I hate New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe it’s because I’m not organized enough to think about what I really want to change. Or, perhaps it’s because I don’t like setting myself up for failure. It’s December 31 (already 2011 in Australia, I’m reminded) and I’m finally getting to write this New Year’s post. And here’s why.  I feel the need to warn you. If you’re not prepared to work on your goals on December 30th, before the New Year, then don’t expect miracles to happen on January 1st. If you’re committed to change, to work on your eating and eating behaviors, you can and should start on a Friday, or a Tues, or the 12th of January, for instance, rather than waiting for January 1st or a Monday.
But if you do feel ready for change, please consider these strategies.

Yes, dancing cupcakes, from an amazing cupcake shop in NYC
• Set small, realistic goals. Set them so absurdly small that you are guaranteed success in achieving them. From there you could build on those new behaviors resulting in a greater impact on your health and wellbeing.

• Focus on achieving healthier behaviors, rather than targeting a change in weight (regardless of the direction your weight needs to head.) For instance, work on avoiding long periods without food. Keep snacks available, preventing impulsive eating resulting from excessive hunger. Eating modest amounts throughout the day better fuels your body, so you’ll feel better between meals.

• Caution: resolving to be good is a huge trap. Even the use of the words good and bad have no place describing our eating. You are not bad, as in a bad, or immoral person, simply because you ate in excess. For many, the resolve to be good (for instance, the next morning after overeating) really means restricting or eating lightly.

And where does that lead you? Let’s look at this chain of events:

1) You start off early in the day with the goal of being good, or in your mind, eating light.
2) You deny later morning hunger.
3) You might further be exposed or triggered by food on the counter or other food temptations.
4) You’re now starving. (You may see this as a positive, but ultimately it will result in trouble).
5) You overeat.
6) You get angry with yourself, feeling defeated, like a failure. Feeling that you’ve blown it, one of two things result.
            • You continue the downward spiral, thinking it just doesn’t matter anymore;
            • You resolve to be good tomorrow, and set yourself up with unrealistic expectations. And so the cycle continues.

Breaking the Cycle
Instead of trying to be good, focus on honoring your hunger. For many of you, those hunger cues aren’t working too well, (due to chronic restriction and slowed metabolic rate, or slowed stomach emptying, making you feel full much longer than most people, or simple because of high volume intake of low calorie food and drinks).So for now, you’ll need to make a point of scheduling frequent feedings. Generally, I recommend not exceeding 3 ½ or 4 hours max. Give yourself permission to eat, meals and snacks.

Remember—slips happen. (Perhaps a bumper sticker in my future?) Instead of thinking you’re a failure at this, that you’ll never have control over getting healthy, consider any positive changes you have made. Don’t beat yourself up for your slips. Rather, try to track how and why they occurred. What can you learn from the past slip? And what are you going to do differently.

Here’s a New Year’s resolution worth considering. Be kinder, more compassionate to yourself. And consider every day a clean slate (not a clean plate). It’ll work better than absolutely any diet!
Happy New Year, readers!

And thanks to my recent 4-5 followers who joined after the last post!


  1. But resolutions lists are such fun!! (okay, as long as you don't take it all too seriously :-)

  2. Happy New Year!! I am hoping this is finally the year that I can get my eating under control and I think reading your blog is a great way to start!

  3. I read your guest post re WW on Nourishing the Soul and decided to come check you out. I've read all your posts and I really like what you write about. I'm in a food dilemma. Last year in August I weighed 212 lbs and was pretty unhappy with myself. I started a nutritional cleanse program I learned about at my naturopath's and actually loved it. I'm now down ±79 lbs and I look and feel like a new person. What I like about the nutritional cleanse program are the shakes, actually, I love the shakes and bars, but I liked not having to worry about food. I just needed to have bananas and blueberries on hand because I added them to my shakes. I went to WW weekly for support and for a record of my weight loss. Since I'm once again a valid Lifetime Member of WW I only have to go in once a month for a weigh in. But when I was still going in weekly the leader where I went stressed again and again that the successful weight loss maintainers...exercised. I couldn't get this out of my head because I want to maintain my weight loss and continue to feel good about myself so I joined 24 Hour Fitness in March. I now work with a personal trainer twice a week, go to Silver Sneakers (I'm 62) twice a week and follow a routine at home twice a week. That's what I got from WW this last go around. When I went in recently for my monthly weigh in I got the info on their latest plan. When I saw that white and brown rice had the same amount of points, I closed the book and put it away never to be opened again.

    OK, my food dilemma. My trainer tells me that I can't continue on shakes and that I have to eat food. I do, at lunch time and it's usually stir fry of some sort. It's been working fine for me and I have had absolutely no cravings. As an RD, what do you think?

  4. Hi Jeanna,
    First, let me commend you on your determination to get healthy, and your drive to do it right!
    So, there's the short term, and the long term impact of your "shakes" diet. Short term, it works like dream, you like the taste, and it gets results.And, importantly, it removes all thought and decision making about food.
    The problem is with the long term. These diets grow old. And they don't tend to fit with real life situations and occasions.Over time, you'll start to miss real food. Really you will.
    So here's what I suggest.
    First, try to find a Registered Dietitian in your area to guide you (as opposed to a seasoned Weight Watcher, a naturopath, a chiropractor, or anyone else dressing up as an expert in this area.
    Next, slowly wean yourself from the shake diet you are following, perhaps by substituting one meal/day in place of a shake. This will allow you to increase your confidence in managing without your shakes, and start to trust yourself.
    But please, get some guidance, as this is not a replacement for individual nutritional guidance!
    Good luck, and thanks for reading.

  5. Thanks for your response to my comment Lori. I have started a search for a Registered Dietitian in my area as a result of your comments. I hate to admit it but I do find myself missing food, although I like not having to cook. I find myself obsessing about food and always looking forward to the next meal/shake/bar. I want the obsession to end!! You've posted some recipes that look wonderful that I want to try and I imagine you'll have more I won't want to miss!! Thanks again. I really enjoy your blog and will remain a faithful follower.

  6. "...If you’re committed to change, to work on your eating and eating behaviors, you can and should start on a Friday, or a Tues, or the 12th of January..."

    Well it's the 5th of Jan, and a Wed so I'm thinking this is a great time to make this decision - I want to change.
    I don't know what my first step is going to be, but this is the first time in about 18 months that I can honestly say this. And I don't know how long this feeling is going to last so I'm posting it here to help make me more accountable, and to give me something to look back on when I lose this feeling.

    I want to be strong and fit and healthy. And happy. I want 'me' back again.
    So that's my goal for 2011 - starting today.

  7. Bookmark this page for motivation when you start to struggle, to remind yourself of this healthy mindset you'd like to maintain!
    Good to hear!

  8. Jeana:

    You don’t need to worry about food and what your eating when you are eating healthfully, and more importantly, cooking your own food. My big problem w/ weight-loss shakes/bars/meal replacements, etc is that they are INCREDIBLY processed and, ultimately, not satisfying. This is not healthy for anyone. Many meal-replacement shakes contain unhealthy levels of heavy metals and rely too much on processed soy-isolates (which can trigger allergies and auto-immune diseases).

    Your body needs real food, especially fresh produce, for disease resistance and tissue repair. Being thin means nothing when your body is riddled w/ cancer or you suddenly develop an auto-immune disease. You also cannot, especially over the age of 60, maintain healthy muscle-mass on processed diet foods.

    If you need real guidance for cooking and eating healthfully, pick up Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book “Eat to Live.” Which is a vegetarian lifestyle that emphasizes greens, beans, lots of fresh green produce, and low-sugar fruit. It’s been proven to maintain healthy weight, promote weight-loss, and reverse lifestyle diseases (heart disease, type II diabetes). It’s very difficult to gain weight w/ this eating style if you tend to over-eat or are obsessed w/ eating. My parents have turned 60 this year, both are obese, and my Dad has Type II diabetes. _Eat to Live_ is literally saving their lives.

    Also, some personal counseling (not just nutrition counseling w/ an RD) to help you cope w/ the obsessive thoughts about eating would not be remiss here.