Ruth Clark: Don’t resolve to lose weight in the new year

Tuesday, January 03, 2017 6:40AM

As we wind up the holidays many people are thinking of their resolutions for 2017. One in three Americans resolve to better themselves and the clear majority of resolutions are about health, many of which are about dieting to lose weight.

According to US News and World Report, a whopping 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail.

To make matters even worse, when it comes to dieting you may know that 95% of diets fail long term. That’s because they are impossible to follow over the long run. In fact, it is well-known that because diets are based on deprivation they lead to weight gain, binge eating and even eating disorders.

Yo yo dieting and weight cycling have been linked to a greater incidence of diabetes, hypertension, insulin resistance and mortality. This on again, off again approach causes more harm than good.

This is the year to start thinking outside of the box. Instead of focusing on dieting to lose weight, doesn’t it make sense to start paying better attention to what your body needs and make a resolution to take the very best care of yourself?

Instead of resolving to lose 15 pounds by the first day of spring, why not make a commitment to grocery shop weekly so you have the foods you need for healthy snacks and meals?

Why not focus on adding more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet?

How about learning to cook some easy meals in minutes so you can stay home and create great meals instead of going out to eat so often?

Why not consider a fun and productive activity that helps to manage your stress like hiking or snow shoeing on the weekend in our beautiful foot hills? Managing your stress has a very positive effect on your waistline.

Or you could make it a goal to avoid processed and packaged foods which are loaded with additives and preservatives. This is challenging to your digestion making it harder to lose weight.

Why not consider organizing your commitments and stress so you can find time to take better care of yourself? These are the kind of activities that will bring you closer to your goal of a healthier weight instead of pushing you further away.

One of the most important tips to help you stay on track and moving toward your goal of better health is to be realistic about what you hope to achieve. Taking on every single one of the goals outlined above will be overwhelming. Instead, try picking one or two of these goals to practice for a couple of months. Then you can add a couple more.

The truth is that you can make a big impact on your health by implementing small changes over time. Don’t try to change everything at once. I once decided to get into better shape physically and took a course on running. It seems goofy but it was a smart decision because after years of starts and stops around creating a regular exercise program I was finally successful.

Here’s why. My instructor coached me to run from one telephone pole to the next and then walk to the next pole. In no time at all I was running in 10k races. Small consistent changes over time made the difference.

Another important strategy to help you achieve better health in 2017 is to develop mindfulness. Pay attention to what causes you to feel tempted around food. Look at your destructive habits and how you sabotage yourself. Start becoming conscious of what drives your behavior because you don’t have to be swept away by your impulses. You have choices and can respond with kindness and wisdom rather than habit and reactivity.

Make 2017 the year of commitment to taking much better care of yourself and just watch what happens.


Ruth Clark is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a master’s in Public Health and over 35 years of experience.  She lives in Sharon with offices in Peterborough and Amherst and sees clients in Keene (Jeni’s Skin Care).  Ruth specializes in mid-life women who are struggling with weight, mood and fatigue to regain their energy and vitality.