Have you already abandoned your resolution to lose weight? If so, you are not alone. Most Americans do not keep their resolutions. Research by the University of Scranton suggests that the #1 resolution in 2014 was weight loss, however less than 50 percent keep their resolution past the six-month mark.
Generally, weight gain is directly tied to food. If you are overweight, you are overeating. Proclaiming on New Year's Eve that come Jan. 1st you are only going to eat kale, give up wine, do away with bread and go to the gym six days a week won’t work. Why? Because a proclamation is not a plan.
The best gift one can give their partner is additional healthy years of life. What if we all planned to lose weight the way planners plan a wedding? I call it the EAT strategy, pun intended.
Creating a long-term nutritional and exercise plan that is broken down into biweekly or monthly goals works best. I should know, I have already lost six pounds this month. I am not special, stronger or smarter, what I am is tired of the extra weight. The extra weight has weighed me down for almost eight years. The weight beats me up physically and emotionally, and the loose black blouse gives off the illusion that at 5’8 I am not overweight, but I am.
According to New York City based psychiatrist Dr. Janet Taylor, successful change happens when goals are broken into small steps. “Check off your small wins and learn from your failures. People get discouraged when a best-laid plan gets derailed, they quit and miss an opportunity to change a behavior or pattern. Changing a behavior or pattern can also make people feel uncomfortable which may push one towards familiarity. Getting used to living in an uncertain space is an important aspect of change behavior."
A good role model of Dr. Taylor’s small step philosophy is talk show host Wendy Williams. At 50, Wendy is a working mom and daily host of her own TV show. She is massively wealthy and has openly discussed her lifelong battle with weight. As a kid, her parents fat shamed her, she’s jokingly shared her addiction to food that has included eating food out of the garbage that she’s previously discarded (I’ve done that). In her mid-40s, she decided she wanted to lose weight. She started working out, cut out and added the right mix of foods and lost 30 lbs.. in three years. No gimmicks, crazy workouts, starvation diets or juice cleanses. Wendy could have easily paid a team of professionals to help her lose the weight in nine months, but her mantra was “slow and steady." She’s kept the weight off.
Similarly, author and ABC news anchor Mara Schiavocampo shaved off 90 lbs.. in two years. In her book “Thinspired” she chronicles her lifelong addiction to food and lays out detail by detail what she did to lose the weight and keep it off. No gimmicks, crazy workouts, starvation diets or juice cleanses. I emailed Mara and asked her why she thinks it is so difficult to lose weight. She explained, "we come to rely on food for so many reasons beyond hunger. I don't think anyone enjoys abusing food, but we have needs that need to be met (loneliness, exhaustion, sadness, boredom) and we don't know how else to fill them. Food gives you an instant release. For a lot of people, including me, it's a form of self-medication. If you take that away, you have to replace it with something else, and that's the hard part."
We are a planning society. We plan to buy a house, take a vacation and get a new job. My favorite planner, the wedding planner. I’ve known brides of all socioeconomic backgrounds (including my mother) that meticulously lay out every aspect of their wedding day twelve to eighteen months in advance. Vision boards, binders, index cards, color codes, power point decks, websites, registries and countless hours spent negotiating, researching and in some cases, spending money they didn’t have. All the while, many brides are crippled by the following thought, “Oh my god, I have to lose weight before the wedding.” Really? The best gift one can give their partner is additional healthy years of life. What if we all planned to lose weight the way planners plan a wedding? I call it the EAT strategy, pun intended.
Exercise/Eat: Many underestimate the importance of exercise and eating often (the right mix of foods). A half-hour on the elliptical two times a week or “I’m going for a stroll!’ will not cut it, especially if you need to lose a significant amount of weight. Moreover, not eating enough is a recipe for failure. Be patient, remember, “slow and steady.” You have to work out and eat often in order to see and feel results. Jennifer Lopez still works out up to an hour and a half a day and often laments her inability to eat the Puerto Rican foods she grew up. Sofia Vergara hates working our but loves to eat cake. Her mantra, “no pain, no cake.” Zumba, Soul Cycle, Barry’s Bootcamp, running and classes at your local gym should be a part of your exercise strategy. 45-90 minutes per workout is ideal. I know planning isn’t always easy. If it were, everyone would do it. It is possible to lose a pound every 10 to 12 days and not be miserable but losing weight can be extremely discouraging, slow, difficult and lonely.
Addiction: Take an honest inventory of all of your problem foods and drinks. Are they filling a vague emotional need and controlling you? If you are digging through your trash for the left over slice of cake, chances are you are a food addict. No addict is strong enough to have “just a little” of their addictive foods. I should know. I’ve eaten an entire pie while parked in a parking lot and have gulfed down two containers of Talenti ice cream — in one day! If you are not sure you have a problem, you should seek medical and mental help. For now, take a look at the Yale Food Addiction Scale Test.
Time: Some obstacles are easy to overcome by simply planning. Without a plan we are prone to fail. That said, set a realistic timetable. Are you really going to loose 10 lbs. in one month? Get to know your body and learn the body language of strength. It takes time to train your brain to wake up at 5:30 a.m. in the morning in the dead of winter to make it to your 6 a.m. Soul Cycle class. Similarly, if you had a long stressful day at work and you don’t plan in advance to go to the gym after work, chances are once you get to your warm and comfy home, you won’t leave. Factor in good and bad days, setbacks, layoffs, promotions, deaths, birthday parties, IVF failures, miscarriages, elder care and vacations. And, be patient because next year is right around the corner.