It’s right around this time, when people reflect on their year and begin making plans for the coming year. ‘Tis the season — for New Year’s Resolutions.
I must confess, when I was a teenager struggling with being well over two hundred pounds, I made these yearly resolves to lose weight. I was tired of being teased non-stop by all of the mean teenage girls who were my high school classmates but never my friends. I was tired of being the fat one! All I wanted was to lose weight and go unnoticed by tormentors.
No matter how often I told my teenage self I would diet, this never worked for me. I remained the same weight or got bigger. It was only as I began to add exercise into my life along with healthier eating, that I began to lose weight very slowly.
I did NOT diet. I changed my life, instead. I began eating foods lower in fat. I cut out those delicious Las Lomas chocolate chip cookies made so ooey and gooey in the cafeteria and enjoyed daily. I got rid of most sweets and treats and vowed to myself that if I really wanted to lose weight, there was no magic answer. From experience, I knew that after dieting I always gained back what I had lost, plus more. After all, even as a teenager, I made the realization that unless I learned to eat healthier for the long-term, my weight would always yo-yo. This made sense to me after hearing so many adults who joined Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers who did great while on their meal plans but reverted back to eating habits from before their diets. This was because they had learned how to follow a contrived plan but didn't learn how to prepare these foods for themselves "after".
At 16, I began losing a pound or two each week, usually closer to one pound, and started to add exercise in to my life. I started slowly, just like I was doing with weight loss.
When I turned 21, I was diagnosed wit thyroid cancer. That was another “ah-ha” moment for me as I had more answers, besides my over-eating tendencies, to why losing weight was so hard. Ironically, after undergoing surgery and getting my thyroid levels regulated through daily thyroid supplement pills, the weight I had gained as a child and teen came off much easier. However, I did not change my newly adopted lifestyle of low-fat eating and exercise.
What I did do was stop making those dreaded New Year’s Resolutions. I learned that if I vowed to change something about myself for a new year, I was not thinking far enough ahead to what happens after the year ends and another one rings in! I simply continued living my new lifestyle.
I’m 36 now and I'm happy to say that I still live that healthier lifestyle. I never gained back a pound that I lost, as many “dieters” do. Often, people I know are shocked to learn I was ever severely overweight. When I tell them I was they don’t believe it! I’m always asked how I did it, so I tell them the secret that’s not so secret. Diets don’t work nor does joining the gym after the holidays and committing to going several times a week, only to stop going but continue to pay membership fees for the entire year. Don’t vow to make a promise you know you won’t keep. Just like I did as a teenager, start small and don’t expect the impossible. Think about changing how you do things long-term instead of a quick fix. Trust me, I know from experience this works.