Proclaiming a resolution for the New Year is a tradition that has been shared around the globe for thousands of years. Unfortunately, full attainment of resolutions is reported by only 10 percent of the people who make them.
The key to sticking with it — developing mindfulness to the resolution throughout the year.
The No. 1 New Year’s resolution is weight loss. Successful strategies for weight loss include consideration to diet, physical activity, and behavior modifications. Setting a daily intention to each of these dimensions of weight loss builds a foundation for success. Establish a plan weekly plan to set a daily intention to change behaviors using strategies shown to promote weight loss.
The first eight days of intention-setting is outlined below:
Day 1: Add one fruit to your current daily intake. Fruits and vegetables are a source of antioxidants and may provide protection against cancer development, Alzheimer’s Disease and cardiovascular disease. Fruits high in antioxidant value include: prunes, raisins, red grapes, blueberries. blackberries, raspberries, and plums. Work towards adding one of these to your breakfast cereal, snack or as a dessert.
Day 2: Add a vegetable source to your current daily intake. Fresh vegetables are a good source of insoluble and soluble fiber. Beneficial effects of insoluble and soluble fiber include: blood glucose control, weight management, appetite control, digestive health, and diabetes and cardiovascular risk reduction. Add vegetables by creating and colorful display of fresh vegetables such as yellow peppers, red tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and carrots with hummus dip as an appetizer prior to the meal. The fiber in the vegetables will increase the feeling of fullness so fewer calories are consumed at the meal.
Day 3: Power up with whole grains. Whole grains provide a rich source of vitamins, minerals and fiber that offer cardiovascular, diabetes, and digestive benefits. Look for “whole wheat” or “100 percent whole grain” on the label and choose foods with 3gm or more of fiber per serving. Use whole grain bread in place of white or wheat bread for sandwiches or opt for oatmeal as a snack in place of pretzels.
Day 4: Evaluate portion sizes. Plates and bowls are larger today than they were 60 years ago. Using larger plates increases the risk of portioning food sizes two to four times higher than the recommended serving sizes. Use a measuring cup to identify the number of servings portioned on the plate to increase awareness to the number of calories consumed in a meal. Self-monitoring by weighing and measuring foods is an important tool for weight management and weight loss.
Day 5: Plan to eat the last meal of the day by 7 p.m. Intermittent fasting has been shown to be beneficial in maintaining a lower weight. Intermittent fasting involves the avoidance of eating over a 10- to 12-hour time period. Work to eat dinner by 7 p.m. and be mindful of activities, such as television viewing or computer use, that can trigger night-time eating. Energy dense foods such as high fat, high carbohydrate and added sugar foods are typically consumed during episodes of night-time eating, eating these foods at night, during a time of low energy use, can contribute to weight gain. Breaking the chain of triggers for nighttime eating can be challenging so strategies such as chewing sugar free gum, drinking water, or eating a small nutrient-dense snack around 9 p.m. may be helpful in changing this habit.
Day 6: Get 6.5 hours or more of sleep. Adequate sleep may help keep your hunger in check. This may be related to a hormone called leptin that helps you feel full. When we are sleep-deprived, leptin levels decline which can contribute to feeling hungry and an increased desire to eat. Sleep is a time when several metabolic and physiological activities occur to repair and restore making this step an essential component to achieving health goals.
Day 7: Chain-breaking: This technique requires you to list the behaviors that tend to occur together, such as eating ice cream while watching a movie. A list might look like this: “Dinner at 5 p.m. — do laundry — help kids with homework — put kid to bed — wash dishes and clean the kitchen — see ice cream in the freezer — make bowl of ice cream and watch TV show.” A strategy for breaking this behavior could be to wash the dishes after dinner to avoid going into the kitchen before watching television.
Day 8: Connect with nature: Walking in nature has been shown to decrease anxiety and negative feelings and to improve cognitive function. Set out on this day to reconnect with nature and rebalance as you prepare to enter the New Year.
Begin the year for achieving your New Year’s resolution by building a daily plan for success. Setting a daily intention to practice one new health behavior daily will develop mindfulness to your New Year’s resolution throughout the year! Contact a Registered Dietitian to learn more about creating a personalized plan for weight loss that is tailored to your specific lifestyle and health needs.