Losing weight is a top New Year’s resolution for many Americans. Reaching and staying at a healthy weight are resolutions worth keeping–not just throughout the year, but throughout a lifetime.
Avoiding overweight and obesity may help reduce the risk of developing a host of health problems, including diabetes, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, and some types of cancer. With more than 2 in 3 American adults considered overweight or obese, maintaining a healthy weight is a major public health concern.
Setting Goals and Creating an Action Plan
If you’ve resolved to lose weight, you’re more likely to keep your resolution if you set short- and long-term goals–and have an action plan to achieve them. Making your goals realistic will also boost your chances of success. Aiming to lose 10 pounds in 6 months is more likely doable than trying to lose 30 pounds in 3 months.
Your action plan should include small steps you can build on. For instance, replace snacks such as chips with an apple or banana, and try water or other no-calorie beverages.
To become active, start adding short spurts of physical activity to your daily routine. If your schedule allows and you are able, try three 10-minute walks during the day and work up to 30 minutes of daily activity on most days of the week.
If you have a physical disability, try activities you can do despite your disability and that you enjoy and are likely to stick with, such as swimming, wheelchair aerobics or basketball, or armchair yoga or stretching. Include activities to build strong muscles, such as working with resistance bands.
Making Your Healthy Changes Stick
Turning your healthy changes into healthy habits may take some time. Be patient, and prepare for the setbacks and roadblocks you will likely encounter along the way. Don’t give up! If you slip up one day, don’t be hard on yourself–refocus to get back on track.
Here are some potential roadblocks you may run into and how to get past them:
- Lack of motivation. Once your New Year’s resolution is no longer “new,” you may lose the motivation you started with. Remind yourself of the benefits of reaching your goals: feeling better, having more energy, reducing your risk for chronic illnesses, and being a role model for your children or other family members. You might want to make a list of these benefits and put them where you can easily see them. Tracking your progress with a journal or online tool may also keep you motivated.
- Lack of interest. If trying to stick with your healthy eating and physical activity routine gets boring, find creative ways to make things interesting. Join a gym or rec center, or a walking group or wheelchair basketball league at work. Sign up for a dance class or armchair yoga class. Swap healthy recipes with friends or family members. Tackle your “to do” list while getting some physical activity by cleaning out the garage or attic.
- Lack of time. When other priorities start demanding more of your time–family and work, a new volunteer role–don’t sacrifice your healthy habits. Remind yourself that sticking with your action plan is also a priority. Spend time with family or friends by riding bicycles, if you are able. Take a hike with a friend. Shovel snow or mow the grass with a push mower.
Telling others about your resolution and action plan may make you more likely to follow through. Recruit a buddy to walk with, or share your progress with a friend or family member.
The NIDDK has tools and information to help you change your health habits and realize your health goals. One tool for setting and realizing personal weight-loss and physical-activity goals is the Body Weight Planner, which the NIDDK developed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
You also can get tips on how to stay healthy through our Facebook page and my weekly Healthy Moments radio broadcast. Learn more and listen to recorded episodes by searching “Healthy Moments” on the NIDDK home page.
Follow Dr. Rodgers on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NIDDKgov