Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weighing In On Selecting a Diet

I know, “diet” is a four letter word that most of us would prefer to not think about. Watching consumption of calories, carbs and so many other things can be a drag. The origins of the word “diet” literally mean “manner of living.” When looked at in that light, it could mean how and what you eat versus the negative restrictive regimens we commonly associate with the word. With all of the programs out there, it can be overwhelming to select the one that’s right for you, the one with the greatest chance of success with healthy weight loss and maintenance afterward. Here are a few factors to consider when selecting your next eating program.

First, let’s look at enjoyment of the foods included. Are these foods that you would normally eat simply because you like them? Your family is another factor in this – do your roommates, spouse, children, etc also enjoy these foods. This would eliminate the need to eat differently or prepare multiple meals.

Next, availability is a factor to consider. Are the foods in the diet readily available to you? For example, some programs use specific brands of food. Take a look to see if those foods are at the local grocery store. If not, what type of lead time is required to order them online and have them delivered. Your travel schedule is also something to consider…travelers may not be the best candidate for programs with uncommon foods.

As with almost everything else, cost is a consideration when selecting a plan. When looking over the plan, both as an overview and at the detail level, what is the cost associated with following the program? Some foods are only available at specialty grocers or via mail delivery, and may be more costly than foods available at big box grocers. Size of your family is also a consideration here, as the single person’s budget varies greatly from a family of five.

The final factor I’ll address here is the sustainability of the plan. When looking at yourself in one year, are you able to see yourself eating the same way, or have you reverted back to old habits in some fashion. As I mentioned earlier, a “diet” is a “manner of living.” Your eating regimen should be something you can maintain long term, with small tweaks to address your short term goals.

There are huge sections of stores that advertise dozens of different diets. Do your research and be sure to consider these points, such as enjoyment of food, food availability and cost and your ability to sustain a particular option. Making an informed decision will lead to motivation and a greater opportunity for success in reaching your weight loss goals!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Setting SMART Goals

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are getting back into the “normal” routine. Many of you have made some New Year’s resolutions – I hope you are successful so far in keeping them. One of the top ten resolutions people make is to lose weight. As you are putting together your game plan to accomplish this resolution, I would imagine you are setting some goals. Setting the goals are as critical to the process as reaching them. One method in creating goals is to use the SMART method. This is an acronym for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. For this blog, I’ll take the ever popular “I want to lose weight” goal and apply this principle.

Specific: The S helps you to narrow down your goal to something very specific. It should answer questions like what am I trying to accomplish, and possibly reasons for wanting to reach this particular goal. For our example, it might be “I want to lose 20 pounds to improve my overall health.” This is more detailed than losing weight and shows a precise end result.

Measureable: The M is to determine how you will measure your success in reaching your goal. This can be simple when it comes to weight loss, as many people use a scale to calculate weight changes. Building on our earlier statement, it might look something like this: “I want to lose 20 pounds, based on my home scale, to improve my overall health.”

Attainable: The A exists to check if your goal is attainable based on factors such as your attitude, abilities and skills. Attitude is a critical part of the weight loss process, you definitely have to be in it to win it so to speak. Are you willing to make some sacrifices to achieve this goal? Your physical ability also plays a huge role. If you have a broken ankle, it might be more difficult to achieve this goal in the timeframe you desire.

Realistic: The R is one of my favorites…is the goal you have set realistic. You have to be willing and able to reach your goal. Someone who wants to lose 20 pounds in one week will probably be disappointed and not obtain their desired results. If you are unwilling to change your eating habits to accommodate weight loss, your results may not be ideal.

Timely: The T is to set a timeframe for achieving your goal. Having a deadline in your goal can hold you more accountable as your strive to reach your goal. In our example, it might look like this: “I want to lose 20 pounds, based on my home scale, to improve my overall health by May 1st. To do this I will join a health club and workout with a personal trainer.”

As you can see, making your goals more specific actually helps you to create a roadmap to reaching your preferred result. So set some goals and get moving – I know you can do it!