I’m one of those people who constantly sets goals to lose weight. I really am stuck in a vicious cycle: lose five to ten pounds, gain it back, lose it again. But this year will be different. (Sure, you say, rolling your eyes.) One of the main differences is that I am connecting my weight loss with actual lifestyle changes. In order for such New Year’s resolutions to stick, whether they are financial, professional or lifestyle, it is necessary to make a plan that includes gradual changes that can be sustainable over long periods of time. In my case, I used to go hard for a month, denying myself food and exercising like crazy. After accomplishing my weight loss goals, I would be exhausted, unhappy and ready to celebrate by eating poorly and exercising sporadically.
About three months ago, I joined a gym, began eating better and started practicing portion control. As a result, I’ve been slowly losing weight. But, more importantly, I’m working on a lifestyle change that involves regular exercise, a more balanced diet, and smaller portions of sweets (which I refuse to cut out altogether). The changes have been slow in coming, but the gradual change, I expect, will lead to something that is more sustainable in the long-term, hopefully helping me to finally break the cycle of losing and regaining the same ten pounds over and over again.
Free Resources to help you focus on what you eat and what you are doing
If you are looking to lose weight as part of your New Year’s resolutions, here are some tools that I like, since they help keep me on track, and encourage more conscious decision making when it comes to what I eat and what I do:
- Lose It!: This is one of the most useful free apps for iPhone/iPod Touch. Lose It! helps you set a goal for how much you want to lose, and your desired time frame, and the phone calculates a daily calorie budget for you. Keep track of what you are eating, and how many calories you burn through activity. Hundreds of foods are in the app, and you can add your own, using nutrition information on food boxes and recipes. After you reach your goal, you can use the app to help you maintain your weight.
- 40-30-30: About.com helps you calculate a balanced diet using the 40-30-30 method of balancing carbs, proteins and fats. This can help you figure out how to keep your food ratios to something a little healthier. Once you get used to which foods provide which nutrients, you are more likely to adjust to eating them automatically.
- Diet and Portions: This is another helpful guide from About.com. It looks at different portion guidelines and diet ideas for different calories needs. It’s very helpful for getting your portion sizes to something reasonable.
- Healthy Recipes: The Mayo Clinic offers hundreds of healthy (and tasty!) recipes that are healthy. You can also browse by different diet plans, such as heart healthy, meatless and diabetes. Great ideas for developing healthier eating habits.
- Exercise for less: There are some great tips for saving money while you exercise over at Fiscal Fizzle. You don’t have to join a gym to increase your physical activity. And you can build a home gym for a small amount of money. I have a kickboxing video, stability ball, hand weights and a yoga mat that I can use on days I don’t go to the gym.
In the end, small changes start to add up, provided they are small changes that you can live with. This way, you are more likely to continue living a healthier lifestyle, and actually get off the yo-yo diet cycle. So far, it’s been working for me.
Do you have any tips or resources that help you stay on track while losing weight?