Now that the New Year has passed, you’ve probably heard your fair share of weight loss resolutions. Whether it’s pledging to lose the pounds that have accumulated over the years or just getting back on track after the holidays, slimming down is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most difficult to stick with.
The beginning of a new year can feel like a good time to commit to a new lifestyle, but factors like weather, the winter blues, and the temptations of warm, calorie-heavy comfort foods can be hurdles along the way and make your goal more difficult to stick to in the long term.
“Although many people are eager to lose weight, old habits can be difficult to overcome and the idea of a New Year’s resolution can lose its appeal pretty quickly. That’s why creating a long-term plan for weight loss is so important,” says Richard Ing, MD, bariatric surgeon and medical director of the Bariatric Program at Bryn Mawr Hospital, part of Main Line Health.
If you’re committed to pursuing a healthier lifestyle, all hope isn’t lost. Below, the staff of the Bariatric Program offers the tips you need to set an achievable weight loss goal.
Set a realistic weight loss goal
Chances are losing 20 pounds by March is neither a realistic nor a healthy goal. Talk to your doctor about what a healthy weight loss would be for you to ensure you’re losing weight in a way that still keeps your body healthy.
After you determine what a healthy weight loss is for you, try breaking it up into smaller milestones. For example: Instead of planning to lose 20 pounds by June, reframe your goal by planning to lose one pound a week. Though your weight loss total is the same, losing one pound per week can help your goal feel more realistic.
Set a non-number weight loss goal
Remember that your weight loss journey shouldn’t focus solely on the number on the scale. Aim to achieve non-number-related weight loss goals like your clothes fitting more comfortably, choosing a healthier dish during dinner, or opting to take a walk instead of watching television.
Tell others about your weight loss goal
It might help to tell your friends, family, and co-workers about your weight loss goal to help you stay on track. Although your weight loss journey is entirely your own, you may be more likely to make healthier choices knowing that other people are expecting to see a change.
Put a weight loss plan in place
Telling yourself that you’ll completely forego soda, only eat salads for lunch, and work out every day is only going to set you up for future failure. If you’re planning on losing weight and sustaining that weight loss in the long term, you’ll need to develop a weight loss plan that’s realistic.
“You know your schedule and your temptations the best,” says Christine Hurley, outpatient nutrition counselor at the Bariatric Center at Bryn Mawr Hospital. “When you’re developing your weight loss plan, keep those things in mind. No two weight loss plans are the same, and you have to find what works for you.”
If you know that you often work late, schedule workouts for the early morning or promise yourself to work out on the weekend, instead. If you’re hard-pressed to pass up an ice cream treat, save calories during an earlier meal so you can indulge later. Planning for potential complications like these can help you avoid them and keep you on track.
Allow room for mistakes
Even with a weight loss plan in place, slip-ups are bound to occur. When you find yourself feeling guilty or ready to quit after a heavy meal or a long week with little activity, remember that it’s easy to pick up where you left off. Don’t let yourself become discouraged by one mistake. Instead of second guessing your goal, get back to your healthy routine the next day.
While moderation is key for weight loss, Hurley reminds patients to avoid a common weight loss misstep: Skipping meals.
"It's important to avoid skipping meals. Even if you don't have time for a big meal, try a snack that pairs lean protein and high-fiber carbohydrates, like an apple with an ounce of low-fat cheese, or a tablespoon of nut butter. This will help fill you up until your next meal," she explains.
Join a weight loss support group
Feeling like you can’t attempt weight loss alone? There are plenty of options available for you to seek support. In addition to weight loss support programs like Weight Watchers, many community centers also hold support groups that are free and open to the public. Can’t find anywhere locally? You can find support online, too.
“Mobile apps like MyFitnessPal and online forums have community boards that you can post in and seek support from,” says Hurley. “Hearing from others in the same situation may help you find answers to some of your questions and provide help to others.”
At times, losing weight can feel like an uphill battle. But by instituting a weight loss plan and approaching it in a healthy and realistic way, you can ensure long-term success.
Support for your weight loss journey
Struggling to lose weight despite dieting and exercise? Join us for one of our upcoming bariatric surgery information sessions at our health centers in Newtown Square, Broomall and Exton Square to determine whether or not weight loss surgery is right for you. Visit our website for a full list of dates and locations, and to register for an upcoming informational session.
In addition to bariatric surgery and one-on-one nutrition counseling sessions, Main Line Health also offers a full and partial meal replacement weight loss program that has been designed to achieve rapid weight loss goals—the New Directions Program.