Friday, November 11, 2011

New Year’s Resolution for a Healthier 2012 – Everything in Moderation! (Part 1)

Most New Year’s Resolutions fail for a single reason… they are unrealistically rigid. We tend to frame the resolution as an all or nothing endeavor and when success can only be perfection, it is a set up for failure.

The truth is, unless you have a highly compulsive personality, sticking to an all-or-nothing resolution can be incredibly difficult. Inevitability you "fail"… and after several failures, you throw in towel.

With the exception of smoking, there are few health-oriented resolutions that will stick if you approach it with an all-or-nothing attitude. Rather than having an all-or-nothing mentality this year, make your New Year’s resolution a commitment to moderation!

Join us as we embark on a 3 part series on how to create a resolution you can succeed at to achieve a healthier you in 2012.

Part 1: Commit to a Moderate Diet

Most diets and food-related resolutions are highly ambitious to a fault. They demand drastic changes that inevitably trigger emotional responses, including cravings and self sabotage.

Some examples of diet resolutions that are a set-up for failure include:
  • I’m going to lose 20 pounds by April.  
    • In general, long-term goals are best achieved by breaking them into smaller parts. Too large a goal often overwhelms and leads to a sense of "this is impossible! I might as well eat my weight in Ding Dongs because I’m never going to lose 20 pounds." 
  • I will eat only 1,250 calories a day.  
    • Setting an absolute caloric intake leads to obsessive calorie counting and bizarre eating patterns. Many people end up achieving low calorie mornings / afternoons, only to be overcome with intense evening hunger pangs and the eventual binge. 
    • A substantially lower-than-normal caloric intake can also stall your metabolism, which in turn can lead to weight gain, lethargy and even depression.
  • I will cut out all sodium from my diet. 
    • Salt is not the enemy. Too much salt is the enemy. Instead of trying to avoid sodium altogether opt for lower sodium alternatives to your favorite foods (soups, crackers, snacks, sauces, etc.)
    • Salt food to taste using a high quality salt like EM-X Gold Sea Salt, which is more pure than your average table salt, contains additional minerals and packs more flavor so you can use less.
  • I will only eat cucumbers, raw foods, vegan food, magical radish soup, etc. 
    • Sudden extremes are to be avoided because they almost always generate cravings for forbidden foods. 
    • Any diet that is over dependent on a single food item is to be avoided. It not only lacks nutrient diversity, but it’s boring so you will tire of it quickly. 
    • If you are already a Vegetarian or Vegan, that is fantastic… but if you are trying to become one, it is better to make gradual changes to your diet and slowly progress to that lifestyle.
  • I will cut out all the sweets, salty and/or fatty foods (that I love). 
    • Again, this will only generate intense cravings for foods that are off-limits.
  • I will eliminate all fats from my diet. 
    • Not only does this sound impossible, but it is also unhealthy. There are a number of healthy fats that your body needs in order to absorb certain vitamins, as well as maintain a healthy immune system, skin, hair and organs. Rather than vilifying all fats, it is better to focus on limiting saturated fats, with the understanding that you will consume saturated fats on occasion due to their prevalence in our culture and the fact that they can be a tasty occasional treat!
Instead of deprivation, focus on enjoying food, while also limiting unhealthy excess. Make a list of a few specific changes to your diet that allow for mistakes and some gray area.

Some examples of good changes include:
  • I will cut back on deserts, but allow myself one really incredible desert on Saturday
  • I will limit my weekday lunches to 350 calories
  • I will lose 5 pounds by February 1st
  • I will commit to eating 5 healthy dinners this week
  • I will not grocery shop when I am hungry
  • I will start drinking 1% milk
  • I will always carry a healthy snack in my car/briefcase/purse
  • I will incorporate more fermented foods and live digestive enzymes into my diet
  • I will include one healthy vegetable side dish with dinner
  • I will try a new vegetable or vegetarian recipe every week
  • I will replace soda with water or sugar free tea 3 times a week
  • I will only have one glass of wine a night, except for Saturday when I will have two
These sorts of changes are realistic, manageable and – most importantly – allow for transgressions. The result is a happy, healthier life where you can congratulate yourself for meaningful successes rather than berate yourself for failure.

In our next post we will tackle applying moderation to your physical and mental health!
Stay Tuned!

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