Why New Year’s Diet & Fitness Resolutions Never Work (Part 1)

Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution? I’m sure most of us have. And how many times have you made a New Year’s resolution to either lose weight or get in shape for the new year?

How did that work out for you?

By far weight loss and fitness are the top New Year’s resolutions. And it’s the time when gyms make their most money. When you think about it it makes sense. We go through the holidays over eating and drinking too much, possibly dealing with family stress, and come the end of the year we often feel like we need to do something drastic.

How often have you started work in the new year and someone stops you to ask, “Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?” How many of your New Year’s resolutions have you achieved? A more important question might be this, do you remember any of your New Year’s resolutions?

If you want 2017 to be a better year than 2016 there’s a better approach than simply making New Year’s resolutions. I recently did a Facebook Live broadcast in two parts, titled,

Why New Year’s Diet & Fitness Resolutions Never Work (and What to do Instead!)

Over the two videos I covered 4 major topics:

  1. Why goals and New Year’s Resolutions don’t work when it comes to health and fitness.
  2. Why a structured, habit-based “behavioural” approach to nutrition and wellbeing over a longer term results in easy and sustainable weight loss.
  3. How cooking your meals in bulk or meal planning your week reduces decision fatigue, and;
  4. There’s always enough time to do or achieve whatever you want in life.

Watch the Facebook Live video

Here’s a link to my Facebook page if the video isn’t available.

Develop better skills, behaviours and habits.

It’s easy to set a goal to improve your health (like “I want to lose 15 pounds”) and then maybe you follow a diet or a meal plan, and start working out.

Many people just give up because life gets in the way, they haven’t seen much, or any progress, and they simply lose the willpower and motivation to continue.

What’s often missing from the goal design process are the habits needed to help you succeed.

A habit-based approach to nutrition looks like this:

Break down what you want to do (your goals) into skills and then develop those skills with daily actions. The more you improve and build your skills, the more likely you are to achieve your goals.

You don’t have to be “on a diet” to lose weight.

The biggest factors in weight loss include behaviours like,

  1. Eating real, whole foods and minimizing processed foods. This includes eating, not drinking your calories;
  2. Learning and practicing how to eat slowly and how to eat to 80% full;
  3. Make you home environment healthy by default, and;
  4. Practicing healthy eating habits that almost automatically RESULT in weight loss without you having to directly work on that goal.

Why do BEHAVIOURS work better than goals?

When you practice these healthy habits with consistency, you increase the skills that support health-improving behaviours and lasting routines, which makes achieving your fitness and weight loss goals not only realistic, but easier.

Habits and Behaviours are the missing ingredients to achieving goals.

To help make it easier to practice and develop new health habits (toward achieving your goals) you need to know the rewards for doing the behaviours. Having either a reward system in place, or simply knowing the benefits to doing a particular behaviour give you a better chance of success.

Ask yourself, what are the healthy behaviours that I want to create in my life?

Then, to make those behaviours more meaningful, find the associated rewards for doing that behaviour.

For example let’s say you want to eat more vegetables. What’s the reward for that behaviour? Think of things like improved health, better digestion, weight loss, etc.

Another example: say you want to go to the gym in the morning before work.

The benefits of this new behaviour include,

  • Getting your workout done first thing and you never miss it
  • Feeling better psychologically
  • Having less stress during the day
  • Burning calories from exercise which helps to keep your weight in check
  • Sleeping better, and so on.

Now when the alarm goes off in the morning and you might want to sleep in, you remind yourself of how much better you will feel if you “just get up and do 5 minutes of cardio” before work.”

This is an important little brain trick:

Psychologically, if you give your brain a micro commitment, like, “I will just do 5 minutes of cardio” (instead of saying “Let’s go do that 45 minute workout”) it just doesn’t feel that large and unmanageable.

When you get to the gym and get on the bike or the treadmill you start to wake up. Then suddenly you feel like having continuing with the rest of workout. You think to yourself, “OK I’m already here” or, “I feel great, let’s keep going” and viola, you did it!

This is such a great example of why taking action creates the momentum to keep going. Motivation alone is useless without movement into action. Most often getting started is the hardest part. But once you’ve started it’s easy/easier to keep going.

Resistance is not futile.

You want to be able to remind yourself of the reward for certain behaviours when you push back and feel resistance. When we force ourselves to do something we don’t like, we push back. It won’t be perfect every time, but it’s not supposed to be.

Practice makes for improvement…

What you resist, persists.

The more you push something away, the more force you give it to come back at you. Hate eating veggies? Then that’s all you’re going to focus on every time you see veggies on your plate unless you reframe the purpose or the healthy behaviour for eating those greens.

So experiment and make it a game. If your new healthy behaviour is to eat more veggies, try a new one every week, or try cooking a vegetable in a healthier way than what you’re used to, use different seasonings, or add them to a soup or a stew where you might not taste them so directly.

Try out a variety of workouts and exercise from HIIT, Tabata, circuits, shorter workouts, lifting two days and alternating days you do yoga or a group class, walking, cycling, you play squash, and so on.

Here are some effective habits to help you develop better eating and nutrition skills, which will lead to improved health and weight loss:

  1. Learn how to eat slowly. Use the “fork down for 5-minutes technique.” After you’ve eaten for a while, and well before you think you are getting full, put down your fork and note the time (or set a timer for five minutes). Sit back, relax, visit, and when the five minutes are up, check in with your body to see if you still feel hungry. If you are then eat some more.
  2. Learn how to eat to 80% full.
  3. Eat one serving of vegetables at every meal (the size of your fist). Benefits: more nutrients, fibre, more fullness with fewer calories.
  4. Prepare meals and snacks in advance. Example: Make a slow cooker recipe of 4-6 servings to provide dinner and lunch the next day. Benefits: Having meals prepared means you don’t have to think about what you’re going to eat; better adherence to eating healthy, simplifies your work day.

Just a note that these are example of some of the habits that I will help you develop in my year-long structured nutrition program. Each habit is practiced for two weeks with short, daily lessons to help you master the habit and slowly improve your health just a bit every day. The idea is to build slowly, over the long-term, and to build foundational habits that support future health habits throughout the duration of the program.

I’m here to help

If you want to make 2017 a healthier, better year, and want to learn more about my one-on-one transformative coaching, or my year-long structured nutrition program, simply fill out the form below to book a complimentary 90-minute discovery call with me.

Be well.