Successful Resolutions

People are more successful at achieving their New Year’s Resolutions than widely believed. In fact, a study found the success rate of resolutions is ten times higher than the success rate of adults desiring to change without making a resolution.

Half of American adults make New Year’s Resolutions. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, researchers found half of the people who made New Year’s Resolutions to quit smoking, lose weight, or start an exercise program were still successful at their goals six months later. The study, which compared people who carried out their resolutions and those who didn’t, clarified a few important things about how people successfully change.

They found desire to change and introspection didn’t make a difference. What made the difference were actions. While unsuccessful resolvers talked a lot about their problem, successful resolvers actively worked toward their goal. They controlled their surroundings, avoided difficult situations and rewarded themselves for changing.

If you want to lose weight, find strategies you can easily work into your lifestyle. Don’t try to make sweeping overhauls that are doomed to fail. Your goals should be realistic, specific and simple. Try just a few of the 192 tips excerpted from my book Diet Simple:

Minesweep for Calorie Bombs

Get rid of the foods in your house that you have a problem controlling.

Bottom Line: If that saves just one 500 calorie binge per week, you could lose 7 pounds in a year.

Choose "Surf"

The numbers tell the story: 6 ounces of prime rib is 600 calories, sirloin is 450, salmon is 300, white fish is 180 calories. Choosing seafood over fatty red meat could save at least 300 calories per meal.

Bottom Line: Do it four nights a week and lose 18 pounds in a year.

Irritate the Waiter

Shake up the usual order of things in a restaurant by ordering a salad or soup first, eating it, then ordering your entree. This will take the edge off your appetite so that you’ll order more modestly. Count on saving at least 400 calories per night out.

Bottom Line: If you “irritate the waiter” just once a week, that adds up to losing 6 pounds a year.

Hit the Ground Running

Wake up in the morning. Yawn. Roll out of bed, go to the bathroom, have a drink of water, and slip on some exercise clothes. Don’t check e-mail or phone messages. Start moving. Now! Right away! Exercising first thing in the morning is one of the best things you can do for yourself. And it’s over with before you’re even awake!

Bottom Line: Do it for just 15 minutes a day, and lose 10 pounds in a year!

Get Sexy Lingerie

After accomplishing just one of these strategies, reward yourself—or ask your spouse to—with something that’s not a box of chocolates or an elaborate dinner out. Make the substitution just once a week and you’ll save at least 1,200 calories.

Bottom Line: Lose 18 pounds in a year.

Successful weight loss is a lot like being successful at anything in life. Set a goal or resolution, plan concrete steps which will take you there and anticipate and avoid pitfalls while rewarding yourself along the way. Above all: Know thyself and plan appropriately!

Regardless of Oscar Wilde’s belief that resolutions are “pure vanity; their result absolutely nil,” you can be successful at achieving your New Year’s Resolution!

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. is a weight loss and nutrition consultant with a 20-year private practice in Georgetown. She is a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and author of, Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations (LifeLine Press)

Dec 29, 2010 at 12:14 PM Josef

While some of the above advice is most definitely sound, the underlying premise and math are bad.

For example, the 15min of exercise/day = 10 lbs in a year is definitely false.

15min/d x 365d = 91.25hrs/yr
about 1hr45min/week

Random activity or aerobic exercise done for 2hrs/wk(1 - aerobic group got fatter), 3hrs/wk(2 - aerobic group got fatter), or even 6hrs/wk(3) does NOT work for fat-loss at all.

If you force the body to send extra energy out with activity it finds out how to save that same amount of energy elsewhere. (4 - after aerobics the body compensates by burning less fat for at least 24hrs) The first law of thermodynamics is just an accounting system.

Exercise that actually does work - resistance training and high intensity interval training (1, 2, 5, 6) - work on your metabolic rate after your workout and impact the right hormones in the right way.

The human fat cell is just like any other cell - growth is hormonally regulated, not will-power regulated. That's cell biology 101.

1. Trapp EG and Boucher SH. Fat loss following 15 weeks of high intensity, intermittent cycle training. Fat Loss Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
2. King, J., Panton, L., Broeder, C., Browder, K., Quindry, J., & Rhea, L. (2001). A comparison of high intensity vs. low intensity exercise on body composition in overweight women. Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, 33, A2421.
3. McTiernan, Anne, et. al. Exercise Effect on Weight and Body Fat in Men and Women. Obesity (2007) 15, 1496-1512
4. Melanson, E L, et al. When energy balance is maintained, exercise does not induce negative fat balance in lean sedentary, obese sedentary, or lean endurance-trained individuals J Appl Physiol 107: 1847-1856, 2009
6. Kramer, WJ, et al. Influence of exercise training on physiological and performance changes with weight loss in men. Med Sci in Sport & Ex. 31(9):1320-29.1999

Jan 14, 2011 at 10:06 PM Katherine Tallmadge

Thank you for your comment. I'll have to disagree. My story is correct. Here is why:

The scientific formula is: 3,500 calories burned is equal to one pound lost.

Just burning an extra 100 calories per day every day of the year (365 days in a year), a 10 to 20 minute walk for most people, would cause a person to lost ten pounds over a year's time. It's basic math, proven by science, and it has worked for my clients over the 25 years I have worked with them. Moderate cardiovascular activity, such as walking, is better for fat burning and heart-health than intense exercise.

Jan 15, 2011 at 12:34 PM Katherine Tallmadge

In the "British Journal of Medicine," one of many major studies published find walking lowers body mass index and diabetes Type 2 risk significantly (from The Washington Post):

As part of a national study in Australia to measure diabetes levels, experts gave nearly 600 adults a pedometer to measure how many steps they took over two consecutive days in 2000 and again in 2005.

Participants also completed a diet and lifestyle questionnaire and had their measurements - including height, weight and insulin sensitivity - taken.

It was found that people who walked the most after five years not only had a lower body mass index, but were also more sensitive to insulin and less likely to develop diabetes.

The study was paid for by the Australian government and pharmaceuticals groups who make diabetes drugs, including Abbott Australasia, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb. It was published Thursday in the journal BMJ.

Many governments and health officials recommend people walk 10,000 steps a day, the equivalent of about five miles (eight kilometres). The study authors, from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, estimated that if a sedentary person increased their daily steps to reach the 10,000 step threshold, he or she would lower their body mass index by almost one point and improve their sensitivity to insulin by three times.

Health officials have long suggested people stay slim and exercise to avoid diabetes.

"Think about what you do each day and how you can work in more steps," advises the American Diabetes Association on its website, which recommends taking the stairs instead of the elevator. "You'll be amazed at how these extra minutes and steps add up."

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