A New Approach to New Year's Resolutions

It's usually the slower changes that remain lifestyle habits. Focus on only one change that will make a difference and practice that habit all year.

| Jan 1, 2005

Many of the “lifestyle” magazines and television programs that you see from now until February are likely to feature New Year’s makeover diets. These diets will be promoted as “the one” sure to make you slim for life and to be easier to follow than all the rest.

I don’t need to tell you all the reasons that many people with diabetes can benefit from weight loss or additional physical activity, but remember—a 5 to 10 percent weight loss (or 10 to 20 pounds for a 200-pound person) can help lower blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol and can reduce the risk of heart disease.

This year, instead of vowing to make multiple changes toward a healthier lifestyle, you might consider a new approach. Try making only one change and then taking regular steps to maintain it.

Changing for Success

Plan for change. First identify the one action that would have the most impact on your life and health. Find a quiet time to think this over. Ask yourself, “What one action could I take that would most significantly affect my health for the better?”

Plan for success. After identifying that action, write down your plans for achieving success. If emotional eating is a problem for you, you can talk with a friend or perhaps consult with a therapist or dietitian who can help you learn better coping skills.

Plan for setbacks. Things don’t always go as planned. Stress gets the best of you and you go back to your old habit of late-night snacking. You overeat, forget to go for your daily walk or skip breakfast. Before this happens, write down a strategy for getting back on track.

A relapse does not mean failure. It is simply a part of making a change. Planning for it can help you get back on track faster.

Choosing a healthier lifestyle takes both a positive attitude and a personal commitment. It also takes time. We often prefer things to happen fast and we easily become impatient with a more gradual process. However, it’s usually the slower changes that remain lifestyle habits. Focus on only one action that will make a difference and practice that habit all year. Next year, if you choose, you can always take another small step.

I’ve heard that small changes in lifestyle can really add up, but is that actually true? I would rather go on a diet and lose 10 pounds really fast and just get it over with.

In a Hurry

Here’s how a small change can really make a difference. Let’s say you decide to stop snacking throughout the day and instead eat only three meals and a snack. Your old routine typically resulted in 2,800 calories consumed daily, and the new eating plan results in 2,600 calories a day.

Not a big change, you might think.

Think again. Those 200 calories a day add up to 1,400 calories a week or 72,800 calories per year. That difference alone could result in 21 fewer pounds by the end of the year.

Or, let’s say you commit to walking four times a week for 20 minutes; you burn 100 extra calories each time, which adds up to 400 additional calories burned each week. In a year, your 20-minute strolls could leave you six pounds lighter.

Research tells us that quick weight loss often results in regaining more than was lost, while slow, steady weight loss is more apt to result in long term results.

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Categories: Blood Glucose, Diabetes, Diabetes, Losing weight, Nutrition Advice

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Jan 1, 2005

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