With Summer fast approaching, this is one of the most common times that people start looking up new diet trends to try to get themselves feeling confident about their body for the summer. I would like all of you who do this to stop right there. Research supports that 95% of diets don’t work in the long run and with most of them you not only gain all the weight back but usually gain even more. So challenge yourself to not take that road and to really get grounded in what it means to be healthy, to have a healthy body and to invest in yourself for the long haul, not just for the summer.
Did you know that by cutting your calories to less than 1200 calories a day (which is what a lot of diets do) you slow your metabolism by up to 45%? Instead of dieting, consider taking a step back and think about what you really want to change. Are you just wanting to look good for the summer so you feel more comfortable at the beach? Are you tired of feeling like you never have any energy? Are you noticing that the foods you choose often leave you feeling heavy or bloated? Once you have figured out what it is you are unhappy with the next step is goal setting. When it comes to goal setting follow the SMART method:
S- Specific: Be as specific and detailed as possible so that there is no vagueness or indecision regarding what you need to do to accomplish your goal
M – Measurable: Establish very specific criteria regarding how you will reach the goal so that at the end you know exactly what you have accomplished. For example, if you want to increase your exercise, a measurable go would be “I am going to go to the gym for 30 minutes three times a week”
A – Attainable: Set goals that are important to you and that are within your abilities to accomplish. You want a goal to be slightly beyond reach so that it requires commitment and motivation while still being achievable.
R – Realistic: Set small goals that require effort but that you will follow through with. If you set goals that are either far above or below your abilities, they become meaningless or abandoned all together. In other words, challenge yourself but don’t make the process impossible.
T – Timely: Set a time frame in which you plan on accomplishing your goal by. If you leave it vague and say, for example, you just want to lose 10lbs, you will delay taking action right away. If you set a date in which you want to accomplish your goal by it triggers your unconscious mind to get to work right away.
After you have set your SMART goals, try to take a different approach to meeting your ultimate goal than usual. For example, if its your body you want to work on, rather than decreasing calorie intake (in other words, restricting), why not increase exercise. Remember that exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym or running a marathon. Exercise can mean finding a friend or a colleague who will go for a walk with you every lunch hour. If you are tired or feel heavy/bloated all the time, try adding more color to your diet. In other words, have a fruit or a vegetable with every meal, preferably one that has a bright color (ex/peppers over potatoes).
It is important to take this one step at a time so that you can maintain your progress and not have your health constantly yo-yoing back and forth. I encourage you to set many small goals leading up to one big goal so that you can experience success on a more regular basis which will encourage you to keep going.
Make Summer 2012 your best summer yet by choosing a healthier, more successful alternative to dieting.