It is common knowledge that the first goal to be written down on our ever-expanding, always changing list of New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight.
According to statistics provided by USA.gov, the most popular resolutions made by Americans include saving money, quitting smoking, drinking less, becoming more organized and taking steps in order to better their education.
However, the resolution that gets written down the fastest, and abandoned just as quickly, is to lose weight. Living as we do today, we have been cultured to aim for a weight loss goal and achieve it at all costs. There’s no harm in setting this goal for yourself, but the real danger that accompanies such a popular resolution lies in the reasoning behind your goal and how you intend to achieve it.
Sophomore Vanessa Cisneros has written down on her list of resolutions to lose enough weight in order to achieve a flatter, more toned abdomen.
“I just really want a flat stomach because I want to wear those cute midriff-style shirts,” Cisneros explains as her reason behind setting this goal, “so I’m going to start exercising more.”
Cisneros faces no harm in setting an image goal for herself, but it is important that she creates an explicit fitness plan involving more than just exercise, since that is not the only factor necessary to foster health and wellness. Telling yourself you’re going to “start exercising more” is too broad of a goal as it has no boundaries or specific path clearly laid out, and it becomes an empty promise made to yourself, accroding to Elizabeth Zelvin, an online therapist who specializes in the rehabilitation of people with eating disorders.
Zelvin explains on her online counseling site www.lzcybershrink.com that the pattern of Americans who make generalized resolutions to lose weight and get fit fail more often than not because the goals they set are not realistic.
Her website also notes that the success rate for a New Year’s weight loss goal is so low because many of us choose to diet, but in “dieting,” we only deprive ourselves nutrients we actually need, binge and then loosely promise ourselves we’ll make up for it later.
About 45% of Americans consistently resolve to make adjustments to their weight or health, and of that percentage, only about 8% reach their goal. The number of Americans who maintain their resolutions get their desired results because they remain committed to a clear, realistic plan they set
“I’ve been trying to be healthier and live better for a while now and decided that the New Year was a perfect opportunity to really set my plans in motion,” said junior Ariana Cuellar. “I’m making much healthier choices when it comes to food. The only problem I really have is Taco Bell,” she said, musing over her love for the fast-food restaurant chain.
For Cuellar, when intending to reach a weight loss goal it is imperative to keep her health and safety in mind.
“My goal is to lose 30 pounds by June. I’m taking the Zumba fitness class here at Mills, which meets on Mondays and Wednesdays every week, and have made arrangements with another student to try to exercise together every other day I don’t have Zumba,” she said.
Cuellar set a plan for herself and has sought out support from friends while integrating healthier food choices along with her exercise regimen, a step most people forget to include when attempting to lose weight.
Many people choose between an extreme exercise routine or a radical diet, thinking the physical activity will compensate for their poor food choices or that the healthier food options will allow them to sequester on their couches, rather than settling for a harmonious combination of the two.
Additionally, some people often do not give themselves a realistic amount of time to reach their goals. Attempting to lose a large amount of weight and not allotting yourself a sensible amount of time to lose it can pose several health risks and may result in quickly gaining the weight back. Cuellar has set herself up with a very realistic timeline of 6 months that can surely make her resolution a reality.
There are several resources available to help us set realistic goals for ourselves and reach them.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, CDC.gov, offers valuable tips on not only how to start living healthier, but how to have healthier homes, families, communities and workplaces.
On December 22, 2011, the USDA released a new SuperTracker, a free visually appealing and easily accessible feature found on ChooseMyPlate.gov. With it you can personalize and track your diet and exercise recommendations, measure your progress and even support your friends and family in their own personal resolutions by inviting them to create individual profiles to promote feeling good and living better.
Fitocracy.com offers another unique way to track your health and fitness standings by turning your goals into a game, where you are rewarded for your progress with points, allowing you to unlock achievements to level up online and in your health. The community on Fitocracy.com provides you with a network of excellent advice to help you stay motivated.