It’s a new year and, for many, that means new beginnings, resolutions, and the possibility for a new you.
Polls say that most Americans make resolutions to improve health and become a better person in 2018. That’s great! From Statistic Brain, “people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.” However, only about 8% of people achieve their resolutions each year, and just 75% of those who set goals follow through with them after the first week of the year. This might be the result of unrealistic resolutions or maybe resolutions are abandoned as we return to our previous habits. In short, meeting your goals is TOUGH.
Health is one of, if not the most important possession in life. Therefore, improving your health and fitness in 2018 should be valued. Make it a priority and know that it is a feat you are completely capable of accomplishing. It takes effort every day whether you want to it is lose fat, gain muscle, or reduce your medications, cholesterol or A1c. There is no quick-fix pill, cleanse, or detox.
One thing I have learned through years of research, helping others achieve weight loss goals, and setting my own heath and performance goals is embodied in one word:
Being intentional simply means doing something with purpose. But it is more than that. It means you have a clear understanding of your purpose and values and that you set out to live every day accordingly. It is a lifestyle.
Being intentional about your health goals means being aware of your actions, choices, time and effort, what you eat and how much, and how you feel. Take a few minutes during your busy day to slow down. Think. Write down a task you are going to do that day that will help you meet your goals, then cross it off when you do it. How satisfying would that feel?
The crucial piece to being intentional about your health goals is knowing how to do it. Where do you start? I did a little searching. Where else to start but Google? I Googled “how to lose weight” and this is what I found... First, a weight loss drug. This might work, but there are side effects and it also means spending money, and do you really want to take more medication? Second was Nutrisystem, which works if you adhere, however you must purchase bars and shakes with unknown ingredients. Like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, you must continue or you are susceptible to weight regain. You also get articles like “8 tips to losing weight,” which is littered with misinformation and claims not backed by science. Numerous other erroneous and/or overgeneralized tips, diets, and other weight loss guides come up.
Research has proven that going on a diet fails most of the time. Numerous peer reviewed publications, meta analyses, and review articles have shown that 90% of people who lose weight on a diet will regain the weight and even more within 1-5 years of weight loss.
I have seen it first hand, even in a research setting. I was involved in a research study in overweight women who were asked to follow a reduced calorie diet. They were given instruction about foods to eat and how much. To no surprise, the women who adhered to the diet instructions lost weight and those who did not adhere did not lose weight. However, to my surprise just 2 months after the conclusion of the study, I ran into a participant at the grocery store. She had regained all the weight she lost! A whopping 30 lbs! How does this happen? What is it about dieting that goes so wrong?
After years of research, I have a few ideas as to why diets fail. First and most important, most diets are not centered around a lifestyle change. When it comes to your health, genetics and lifestyle are the 2 primary contributors. While your genetics are not easily changed, you CAN change your lifestyle to improve your health. In fact, every aspect of your lifestyle affects your health in some way. Your lifestyle is the way you live. It includes your work and home life, exercise and eating habits, environment, and social activities.
Your lifestyle specifically effects your metabolism. Metabolism refers to what your body does with what you eat and drink. Your metabolism is unique to you. It is influenced by your genetics, what you eat and drink, exercise habits, stress, sleep, hormone status, and health and illness. Your habitual diet is the biggest contributor to your metabolism, thus your health. Because your metabolism is unique, there is not one universal diet that works for everyone.
This brings us to the second reason why diet and weight loss attempts fail. They are not personalized. Again, your lifestyle, genetics, metabolism and likes and dislikes are unique. Personalized modifications to your lifestyle are crucial to your health and performance success. What works for one person might not work for you.
Lastly, is lack of education. We can follow a plan and do what we are told for a short period of time. In the long run though, it is education that drives our choices. Knowing what and why an eating or activity habit is (and isn’t) nourishing influences our choices and behaviors every day. Education allows us to be intentional about our decisions daily.
It is tough to find reliable resources that are informative and easy to read. I will help you learn what you need to know to be intentional about your choices. The point of this blog is to provide evidence-based, reliable, unbiased, and easy to read information about nutrition and exercise. Stay tuned!