I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. But, if you feel you must make some for 2014, please do yourself a favor and don’t make any resolutions pertaining to starting a diet or joining a gym. Why? Because these methods of attaining weight loss or fitness goals don’t work and are counterproductive. Here are the facts:
- An estimated 50 million Americans go on a diet each year and only about 5% of people who diet keep the weight off. (Colorado State University)
- After completion of a diet plan, most dieters regain 2/3 of lost weight within a year and all or more of their original weight loss amount within 5 years. (National Institute of Health)
- Over half of the diet industry’s claims are false. (American Dietetic Association & Federal Trade Commission)
- 50% of new gym members quit within 6 months and 90% of those who quit stop going within the first 90 days of purchasing a membership. (International Health Club Association)
- 67% of those who own gym memberships rarely, if ever, use them. (statisticbrain.com)
- The average monthly cost of a gym membership is $55. Gym members will regularly go to the gym an average of 2 times per week. Which means the majority of members who are using the gym are paying, on average, $7 per visit. (statisticbrain.com)
- It’s estimated that 70% (an average of $39/month) of a typical gym membership cost is wasted through underutilization. (statisticbrain.com)
Discouraging, isn’t it? Although, it really shouldn’t be. It’s not that it’s impossible to lose weight and keep it off, it’s that most people go about it the wrong way. What the above statistics show is that when one goes into a diet or exercise program looking for quick results by making huge, life altering changes it is very difficult to attain and sustain. I want these statistics to discourage you from making a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and then diet or join a gym (or both) to get you there. But, at the same time, I want to encourage you to make fitness your goal and go about achieving it in a completely different way.
A fit life is attained by making small, manageable changes in food consumption and exercise over time. This allows a person time to create and hone new, fit habits that then become adopted and integrated into her everyday life. The result is a person who is living a fit lifestyle each and every day, making her healthy and strong for a lifetime.
In 2014, instead of going the old, failed route, join my One Small Step to fitness movement. Each month, I give you one healthy change to work on for that entire month. Sometimes it’s a diet change, sometimes an exercise change and sometimes one of each. The idea is to concentrate only on that one change for a month so that it becomes ingrained into your daily meals or weekly exercise routines, making you able to take on another small change at the beginning of the next month.
January 2014 One Small Step: Portion Control
Have unlimited fresh fruits and vegetables but proteins, grains/starches and fats (including those that may go on fruits and vegetables) need to be portioned out. At meals, proteins and grains should each take up only 1/4 of your plate leaving the other half for produce. Cereals, dressings, dairy, nuts, nut butters, condiments, alcohol and anything else that’s poured or scooped out of a container should be measured to the recommended serving size. To start with, don’t guesstimate – actually measure. Over time, you’ll know exactly how much cereal and milk to pour into your bowl or wine to pour into your goblet to constitute the appropriate serving size. Although, it’s not a bad idea to audit yourself every once in a while – it’s human nature to cheat up over time.
Portion control isn’t just for meals. Practice it with snacks and, most especially, treats. We have a tendency to binge on high calorie foods because we rationalize that we’re going “off the diet” and we’re doomed whether we eat two cookies or half the box. The truth is a treat here or there won’t erase all the good you’ve done but a whole container could. The better way to look at it is to accept that treats are a part of your diet, not apart from it, and they should be consumed, enjoyed and savored in the correct portions. In reality, if you allow yourself small indulgences when you crave them, you actually begin to crave them less.
So there it is. Call it a New Year’s resolution done in 12 monthly steps or a promise to yourself to become fit by facing each month of 2014 with a new, attainable goal. Either way, I’m challenging you to join me on the path to becoming fit and happier.
Author’s Note: I am an exercise professional, not a nutrition professional. My food recommendations are based on the most current science-backed information provided by nutrition professionals in the fitness industry publications I receive and my personal experience. Mine are general recommendations that are in line with the guidelines published by the US Dept of Health and Human Services for apparently healthy individuals. If you have a health condition that requires dietary restrictions, I recommend consulting a medical doctor or registered dietician before making any changes to your diet.