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)

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