10 Questions For Women Who Want to Lose Weight

How smart are your New Year’s Resolutions for 2010?

Photograph: photographed by Myra Klarman

MY SELF-CARE: Smart New Year’s resolutions address women’s underlying comfort with making their self-care, well-being, and health a top priority. Regular self-care is the “oxygen mask” women must consistently put on if we are to optimally take care of ourselves (and others) and experience life to the fullest. It is very difficult to sustain any self-care behavior (i.e., exercise and healthy eating) if we don’t feel like we deserve and/or value making regular time for our own self-care. Self-care includes not only creating time to move our bodies but creating time for other nurturing activities like reading a great book or taking a nap. Improving self-care attitudes and behaviors is one of the first steps a woman can take and is essential for creating a solid foundation to support any health behavior that you desire to maintain for life.(Previous posts have discussed how to build essential self-care skills.)
ACHIEVABLE:  SMART New Year’s resolutions are achievable. This principle isn’t new to you, but I want to suggest that you take it to a different level. Pretend you are in kindergarten and learning something for the first time. Give yourself permission to set VERY SMALL goals for yourself. Why? Because it is truly the smart thing to do! Become consistent with these small goals. Learn what gets in your way. Learn how to overcome your obstacles. And ONLY THEN, when you feel that you have incorporated the new behavior into your “routine” increase your goals – just a little at a time. Keep this up. Take 1-2 months to learn how to add 2 – 7 minutes of physical activity to most of your days. You have your whole life to sustain physical activity (or healthy eating or time management, etc). Why not take sufficient time to learn how to do it well? That is the only way you will be successful in sustaining the behavior for the rest of your life. The mantra I teach clients is: Consistency first, then quantity. Once you’ve incorporated the smaller amount (another 2-5 minutes?) then you can increase slowly and work on mastering this higher amount. Then do it again.
REJECT “quick fixes”: Smart New Year’s resolutions reject “quick fixes” and unrealistic goals. Focusing on “losing weight” can easily undermine your ability to sustain any weight you lose and  leads to long-term failure for many. There are quite a few reasons why this is true. One reason is that I often prevents developing positive and life-long relationships with the very behaviors that are essential to weight control.  If the research showing that most people regain their lost weight after only two years isn’t enough to convince you that making “losing weight” your New Year’s resolution AGAIN might not be a good idea, think about your own experiences over the past 20-40 years with weight loss efforts.
SMART New Year’s resolutions are made by women who have learned, often numerous times and from firsthand experience, that “quick fixes” don’t stick in the long-term. SMART women are ready to create goals based on what they can realistically attain, not goals based on false advertising and impossible cultural standards and pressures. If they desire to lose weight, they value losing it in a way that they can maintain over the long haul, instead of losing it quickly and then gaining it back.
TAILORED: Smart New Year’s resolutions are tailored to fit into your life. When you think about which behavior you want to change or goal you want to achieve, think hard about who you are. Tailoring to who you are is of utmost importance. If you don’t respect your own likes, needs and wants when selecting a behavioral path to travel it is extremely unlikely that you’ll be able to sustain the changes over time. If you hate the stairmaster, don’t include that in your resolution to be physically active. Instead choose activities that will feel good, or at least not bad to do. If you love bread, why pick an eating plan that removes it completely?  When you decide to change in ways that respect what you want and like, you will rediscover a deep trust in yourself as you begin to reap the rewards of improved mood, energy, health, and quality of life.

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