The Christmas rush is starting to let up and New Year's is right around the corner. For many people, New Year's Eve and Day mean more parties, more football games to watch and resolutions to make.
Are you one of those who make a resolution at the start of the new year? The word "resolution" is a noun that is defined as a "formal expression of opinion or intention." Resolutions can be made any time of the year, but the start of new year seems to be a popular time to resolve to get started on a new project or task.
Many of us have probably made resolutions that start out "never eat, avoid, cut out, always" and had limited success as the days go buy. And many of the resolutions we make today seem to revolve around our personal health and more specifically our eating and exercise habits. These are certainly worthwhile habits to work on. The best way to achieve lasting changes with these habits is to make them lifestyle habits.
Lifestyle changes come through persistence and moderation, and it is lifestyle changes that are the most effective in the long run. Popular diets that may result in weight loss but omit whole food groups or "crash" diets that result in rapid weight loss but can only be followed for a short time are usually only successful for a short time. As soon as one's eating habits return to the way they were before, the weight usually comes right back. So if you are making a resolution regarding your health, be sure to consider your long term ability and motivation to stick with it.
Secondly, to set yourself up for the best likelihood for success, try to set reasonable goals with a specific plan of attack. For example, popular goals might be to lose weight, exercise more, eat better, drink less alcohol, etc. Those are good goals, but try to take it a step further and define what exactly you plan to do to achieve that broad goal. It does not take big lifestyle changes to make an impact. For example, do you drink a 20 oz bottle of regular soda each day? If you do, you consume about 109,500 calories over the course of one year from that one beverage each day. If you were to change that one bottle of pop to one bottle of calorie-free soda or water each day, over the course of the year you would save yourself those 109,500 calories or the equivalent of 31 pounds! Cutting out that late evening snack, cutting back on second portions, cutting out dessert after the supper meal, etc. can all have an impact over the long run. Try to break down your long term goal (lose weight) into a manageable, measurable goal (lose one pound of weight per week) and develop a plan that you can live with to accomplish it (cut back on soda, cut back on portions, start a food journal, etc.)
May you all have a safe, happy and healthy New Year. May your resolutions be attainable and your mindset be ready to take action!
(Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.)