Another year is here meaning another resolution to be made and broken. Diet and Exercise resolutions always sound good at the beginning but are the hardest resolutions to stick with. Why is that? The major reason is due to long term goals. Yes, long term goals are great but wouldn’t it be easier to have short term goals that are more achievable?
For instance: My long term goal is to run a marathon in October 2014. Thinking about that now is daunting. Yet, since I am paying good money to run this race I want to complete it. It’s an investment! To help me achieve my investment, I break down my long term goal into obtainable parts/smaller goals. For January, my goal is to run 4-5 days a week to start building up my base runs of 6-8 miles. In February, my goal is to cross train while running 4 days a week with 1 day being a long run >6 miles. March includes cross training and running 3 days a week. That week will include speed work, a long run of 8-11 miles, and a mild run 4-6 miles. April will be more cross training plus running 4 days a week with 1 day being a long run 10-13 miles, a speed work day, and 2 mild runs. Towards the end of the month, I will back off my running schedule and complete a 1/2 marathon. That means, by the end of April I will be 1/2 towards completing my New Years Resolution while continuously hitting smaller goals along the way. The road to my “Long Term Goal” has now become manageable.
What about Diet? Diet is complicated and with so many “Fad Diets” and desire for immediate results it can be very difficult to stick with a Registered Dietitian approved, Science based diet. So what is a Registered Dietitian approved, Science based diet? It’s watching portion sizes, not eliminating foods, and eating a variety of foods all from the color of the rainbow.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics releases position papers that compiles the latest research related to a certain topic. This certain position paper discusses the “Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating.” First off, “Total Diet” includes foods and beverages that provide energy and nutrients during an individuals day and lifetime. This being said, labeling specific foods as “good foods” or “bad foods” is inconsistent with the “Total Diet” approach and may actually cause individuals to abandon efforts to make dietary improvements.
So where does the term “good food” and “bad food” actually come from and how do we know what is good and what is bad? Television, magazines, and the Internet are Americans’ leading source of nutrition information followed by newspapers, doctors, and family and friends. When these resources provide good/bad food distinctions, it can cause us to feel guilty, anxious, helpless, or fearful about consuming such good/bad food. For example, have you ever been on a diet where you eliminated all sweets (cookies, cakes, candy, etc)? Then, a week or two into your diet you go to work or someones house where there is a plate full of your favorite chocolate chip cookies. After a battle in your brain, you give in and eat a cookie. However, you don’t just eat 1 cookie, rather you eat 4 or 5 of them because after you finished the one cookie you told yourself “I ate the cookie. I have blown my diet. I might as well finish the rest?” When this happens you are setting yourself up for failure where you believe there is not much that can be done once a loss of control occurs.
How can you control this perpetual “falling of the wagon” when it comes to your diet? It’s by being less restrictive. Once you tell yourself and allow yourself to eat anything that it is hungry for, you will stop craving such foods. For instance, if you want a cookie, eat a cookie. If you want fried chicken, eat fried chicken. What it comes down to is eating the foods that are high in fat, sugar, and calories less often and in smaller quantities, not eliminate them. Once an individual allows themselves to eat whatever they want, when they want, and practices portion control, that is when the weight will fall off. Weight loss is 70% diet. Once you start enjoying food again and realizing that eating one cookie is not going to make you gain 5 pounds you will see results. Just remember, you don’t have to eat it all now and that you can still have more tomorrow. Too many times we think we have only one chance to eat the cookie when in reality, we have multiple days to eat the cookie. Thereby, telling yourself you can have the cooking whenever you want the cook can actually aid in weight loss.
It’s all about your “Total Diet” of what you eat during the week that will make or break your diet resolution. Nobody eats perfectly daily but rather, successful eaters have a balanced diet at the end of the week. Therefore, don’t set yourself up for failure by allowing food to control you. You control the food and what you put into your body. Make this new year a good year and realize slip-ups will always happen. What is important is how you deal with such slip ups!
Make an INVESTMENT in you and your health this year!