How many times have you made it your New Year’s Resolution to lose weight and get fit only to crash and burn a couple of weeks later? I talked to a behavioral specialist to get the skinny on why we get stuck in that tailspin of bad choices and, more importantly, how we can stop.
With the New Year upon us, tons of people are examining their lives and resolving to fix what’s not working. Perhaps the most well-worn theme is how to lose weight and get healthy. While these good intentions have people pouring into the gym in January, you can find quite a few pairs of athletic shoes gathering dust by February. Why do so many people have trouble sticking to their resolutions?
Danielle DiDonato Martinez, M.P.H., C.P.T., specializes in healthy behavioral changes. For 15 years, she’s seen the same bad behaviors crop up over and over again in her clients. But never fear! Danielle has the answers, too, and she’s going to help you figure out how to get the results you want.
Here are the top 5 most common self-sabotaging behaviors and how to fix ’em.
1. Drinking Alcohol Habitually “This is the most common thing I see that’s really a stumbling block if you want to lose weight. If you have that habit of having a drink every evening, not only are you consuming empty calories, but a chain often follows. One drink leads to another. You lose your inhibitions and make unhealthy food choices. Then, since alcohol disrupts your sleep patterns, you don’t sleep well. You’re tired the next day. You make more bad food choices. You skip your workout, and so on.”
- The Solution: “Ask yourself why this drink is important to you. Find what it is you’re lacking. If you feel like a drink is a stress reliever, try foam rolling to relax tense muscles, or ask your partner for a foot rub. Maybe play a silly game with your kids. Then, don’t tell yourself you can never drink again. Start with small, achievable goals. Decide that you’ll only drink on Saturday nights, or only on date night.”
2. All or Nothing Mentality “So many of us try to accomplish these huge, life-changing goals in really short periods of time. Like 30 days to lose 30 lbs., or a really strict cleanse. The problem with these reboots is that they’re unsustainable. People get burned out, they can’t keep up, and then they end up feeling guilty and unsuccessful. Negative feelings are super demotivating and cause people to give up completely.”
- The Solution: “You want to start forming good habits, so if you can only do 5 minutes of exercise a day, great! Soon, 5 minutes will lead to 10, then 20, and so on. Work on your big goal by starting small. It’ll lead you down the path towards that huge change.”
3. Not Drinking Enough Water “If you don’t drink enough water, you often think you’re hungry when you’re really just thirsty. Dehydration leads to overeating and lethargy. Your body can’t flush out toxins, and this can lead to all sorts of health problems.”
- The Solution: “Think about what you’re successful with. If you have 3 coffees a day and you love coffee, have a glass of water after every cup. Carry water with you at all times and make sure the container is convenient to drink out of. If you’re always fumbling with a difficult cap, you’re less likely to drink.”
4. Not Cross Training “When you do same form of exercise over and over again, you’re not going to see a lot of weight loss. You’re also more likely to suffer from burnout, boredom, overuse of the same muscles, injuries, or simply failure to progress.”
- The Solution: “Ask yourself what you like to do and what you can do. Let’s say you love to dance but don’t have time to take a class or go out to a club. Dance around the living room! Or, if you’re really devoted to one form of exercise, try changing it up. If you love to walk on the treadmill, vary the speed, vary the incline, walk with some weights.”
5. Staying Sedentary “If you stay sedentary for most of the day (even if you work out daily), it can keep you from losing weight and, more significantly, you can actually shorten your lifespan. You need to get up and move every 20 minutes.”
- The Solution: “Again, build on things that are already part of your everyday life. If you’re at a desk all day and often check Facebook, make it a rule that you need to stand up and walk around while checking it on your phone. Never drive when you can walk. Every time you answer the phone, stand up to talk.”
There you have it. Start small, build healthy habits, and broaden your horizons! Here’s to a happier new year!
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