In Studio: Health expert explains why New Year’s resolutions to lose weight don’t work

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — How many times have you resolved to lose weight at the start of each new year, but the year went by and you hadn’t lost an ounce?

Health Expert Karen Owac joined KRON4’s Marty Gonzalez to explain why and offered some tips to make this year’s weight loss effort a successful one.

Top Three Reasons Why Weight Loss Resolutions Go Astray

Aside from emotional eating and mindless eating that we talked about in previous weeks, here are some other reasons why your weight loss efforts may have missed the mark.

1) You’re a diet or exercise “perfectionist”. When perfectionists deviate even the slightest bit from a rigid diet or exercise regimen, such as eating a cookie or missing a workout, they feel like they failed (like they’re “bad”), so they give up since they couldn’t follow the program exactly. Perfectionists are bound to an “all-or-nothing” way of thinking. They’re either all in or all out — there’s no in-between with perfectionists.

2) You focus on weight goals (“I’m going to lose 25 lbs.”) versus focusing on behavior goals. Weight is not a behavior.

3) You don’t have a clear-cut plan. The quote, “A goal without a plan is just a wish,” rings true in the quest to lose weight. A sound weight-loss plan builds healthy habits with SMART skills.

SMART is an acronym for five behavior skills: Set a goal, Monitor your progress, Arrange your world for success, Recruit a support team, and Treat yourself.

Set a Goal: Goals put control back into your life and gives it direction, purpose, and power. In order to be effective, goals should be specific, observable, measurable, and achievable.

  • Goals are often too vague and too general, such as “I want to eat better”. Change to: “I will eat five servings of vegetables every day this week”. This goal is better because it focuses on precise details. (It is specific, observable, measurable, and achievable.)
  • Set weekly goals that are small and simple. Short-term goals are less daunting and help break big goals into small, doable steps. The simpler the behavior, the greater the chance you’ll accomplish it.
  • Be sure the goal is meaningful to you. That is, it’s based on YOUR desires — not those of someone else (e.g., spouse, parent). Otherwise, you’re destined for failure.

Monitor Your Progress: If your goal is measurable, you can monitor your progress. Monitoring your progress makes you accountable, reinforces your behavior, and can be motivating.

  • This goal isn’t measurable: “I’ll make better beverage choices at lunch this week.” Change to: “I’ll drink 12 ounces of water instead of a can of soda for lunch at least three times this week.” This goal is something you can actually track and monitor.

Arrange Your World for Success: Setting the goal is just the beginning. Deciding how you’ll achieve a goal is fundamental to accomplishing it.

  • If your goal is to walk 15 minutes during your lunch hour on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, then arranging your world for success may mean that you pack up your tennis shoes the night before, set them by the door, and take them to work. (This skill puts control back into your life and that’s extremely powerful if you lack self-control.)
  • Recruit a Support Team: Team up with others and seek outside resources.
  • Camaraderie is essential in building and sustaining healthy habits. Reach out to a friend, family member, or spouse for support as well as team up with professionals like a physician, exercise specialist, or dietician. Don’t try going it alone.

Treat Yourself: Set benchmarks. Weight loss is a slow, gradual process, so reward your achievements with NON-FOOD treats.

  • Establishing a new habit is no different from trying to potty train a new puppy. When he gets it right, you reward the behavior with a treat immediately. Reward your own efforts right away. Eventually, the behavior will become a habit and you won’t the reward anymore.
  • An example of a non-food treat could be 10 minutes of alone time or time to engage in a favorite hobby, a hot shower, etc.

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