It's around now that I start to hear about falling off wagons. I see the most injuries and concerns regarding weight loss (no one has ever, literally, fallen off a wagon as of yet...phew). For many, it really is a fresh start at a new lifestyle. For others, more of a social pressure and short-lived burst of steam. Here's the top resolution traps I see (all aimed at quick-fixes, you'll notice):
1. Too much, too fast. This usually ends in very demotivating injuries. Like any fitness activity, think of your new goal as "starting training". You will get fit, but you need to give your body some time to figure out the new demands placed on it and to adapt to them. The human body does this incredibly fast but needs a gradual increase rather than sudden. If you feel anything start to hurt or "not feel right", take it down a notch. Breathe. It might be a good idea to see an ND or chiropractor to evaluate your form so you can hit the ground running...properly! Set yourself up for a long-term goal. Start slow and get stronger.
2. Switching to "diet ___". There's actually little evidence to support artificial sweeteners helping with weight loss, and even some linking them to weight gain. We do know that the body's physiological mechanisms don't respond well as simply as had hoped (big surprise!) so it's best to just cut down on the sugar. Again, this can be a gradual transition. Drop by one sugar in your coffee, switch to water with a lemon (or cucumber, sprig of mint, etc) instead of pop, or switch to dark chocolate.
3. Eating more brown bread and pasta. Yes, there's a bit more fibre. No, it will not help with weight loss. Flour-based carbohydrates are simple carbohydrates, even if there's a few seeds sprinkled in for good measure. This might help to understand the difference between a simple carb and a complex carb: If you put it in water and come back in an hour what does it look like? Mushy, gooey, soup-like grossness? Then it's a simple carbohydrate (think bread, pasta, cookies, muffins, etc). Does it look the same as when you put it in the water? Then it's a complex carbohydrate (think rice, beans, sweet potatoes, veggies, fruits). What happens in the water is what happens in your body. More energy and enzymes are needed to break apart complex carbs, meaning they don't spike blood sugar or insulin the way that simple carbs do. Don't get me wrong, whole grain options are definitely better options than their simple white alternatives, but you may be disappointed of you're using them for weight loss.
4. Skipping breakfast. Even if you're still putting your pants on as you head out the door, there's fast options for how to ramp up your metabolism first thing. Starting your day with a healthy dose of protein will get your metabolism going and keep you feeling fuller for longer. This helps with carb cravings later on in the day. Smoothies can be assembled the night before (or thrown together in the morning), eggs can be boiled ahead of time, and steel-cut oats can be made in large batches.
5. Eating less. Less calories in means weight loss, right? In its extreme, yes. When you're not providing the body with the basic caloric needs, metabolism slows, cortisol increases, and physiology favours storage of energy. The body thinks there's a shortage of energy coming in, so it slows everything down a bit to accomodate. Also, when people don't eat regularly they tend to overeat later in the day or at night. Try snacking throughout the day, eating every 2-3 hours, and keep your protein up. Begin tracking your nutritional intake on fitday or myfitnesspal and see how you're doing. Compare how you feel on days you eat more to days when you're not.
Approach it not as a new year's resolution but as a get healthier lifestyle. If you need some specific guidance or want to know what you can do differently, ask your ND or nutritionist. We love food plans!