The turn of the year brings about a plethora of advice on the ritual of New Year’s resolutions. Articles in magazines and websites and features in the media might interest most of us in pursuing this advice. However, change is rarely as effortless as we assume it will be. Only those of us who are committed and consistent enough to maintain our regimens do actually stick to our resolutions.
I would like to reiterate one particular aspect of healthy eating and dieting. Many discussions on New Year’s resolutions tend to overlook this important consequence.
Deprivation, Guilt and Indulgence
An all too common mistake that people commit when dieting, especially in the first few weeks, is that they tend to be overambitious and force themselves to do everything right from the get go. At once, they drive themselves to cut out everything unhealthy, take up green vegetables, flaxseeds, and other wholesome foods they hitherto resisted and exercise aggressively.
Alas, their optimism subsides quickly. They relax and begin to compromise on their goals. They make excuses, revert to their former habits, crave for their guilty pleasures, and tend to overindulge on impulse. They lose sight of their New Year’s resolutions. Consequently, they feel sorry for themselves, renounce their goals, and assume they could never embrace lasting change.
Here are three suggestions for dieting success.
- Cut back, do not cut out. Food is one of the basic pleasures of life. Cutting out some guilty pleasure does not mean depriving yourself of something you like. Treat yourself on occasion, but limit yourself to smaller servings. This will help you resist the urge to splurge.
- Target small, incremental goals that can lead you to lasting change. Realizing your New Year’s resolutions is part of your long-term commitments. Therefore, in goal setting, less can be adequate. Be realistic in what you can expect of yourself. Adjust your expectations and try not to overwhelm yourself. Pace yourself for success over the long term.
- Do not feel guilty if you fall off your plan. Guilt is counterproductive to health and well-being. Get over your lapses and simply begin pursuing your goals again. Ask yourself, “What can I do differently? How can I improve?”
Over the years, chocolate milk had become an obsession of mine, thanks to ads of chocolate drinks featuring my favorite cricket sportsmen in India and a seemingly limitless supply of milk and Hershey’s chocolate syrup at my dorm during graduate school.
One of my goals for year 2009 was to cut down on chocolate and chocolate milk. During the course of the year, I have to admit, I often caught myself overindulging in Hershey’s Miniatures chocolate bars and such from candy jars at work.
- How to work exercise into a busy day
- Health and fitness for the sedentary professional
- How to renewing physical energy
- How Mahatma Gandhi kicked the habit of eating a lot of sugar (A fable)
- Meal manners: pace yourself to others