A brand new year is the perfect opportunity to dust off your resolve and climb back on the wagon. Whether you’re new to Weight Watchers as I am, or simply looking for a framework to help you recommit or stick to your plan, here's how to succeed.
With its cold weather, post-holiday anticlimax and, for many, uncomfortably snug pants, January is not the kindest month. Why, then, do so many of us also spend half the month beating ourselves up about what we ate and drank in December? Right here and now, we are officially declaring the holidays Behind Us, and instead are here to help you focus on your goals for 2009.
Your goal might be a sizeable one, or it might be just a few pounds away. Whichever camp you fall into, contemplating a whole year stretched ahead of you can feel overwhelming. So, instead of worrying about the next 12 months, how about something far more manageable ... four weeks of activities, ideas and motivation.
By committing to this four-week New Year, New Resolve Challenge, you are pledging to look forward, not backward. Each week you’ll have three key tasks that will focus on food, activity, and behavior. None of the tasks is overly challenging or hard to achieve; rather, each one is designed to help you stay mindful of the choices you make, and to find new ways of traveling along the road of your weight-loss journey without getting bored and succumbing to a detour.
Before you begin
Go to the Challenge Commitment page (at the top of entry), where you are encouraged to think about what you want to achieve overall. With the specific tasks I'm giving you this week, checking them off is the easy part. But what is it that you want to feel at the end of the four weeks? And how do you want to build on this momentum as we go into February and beyond? Only you can answer these questions, so I've deliberately left these spaces blank for you.
When you have printed, filled in and signed the Challenge Commitment and pinned it somewhere prominent, you are ready to start tackling Week 1.
The three tasks for you to tackle during this first week of the Challenge will both encourage planning and prepping, and give you something to do immediately.
Remember – your three tasks are related to food, activity, and behavior.
Plan (and shop for) a week’s menu ... remember; “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Take it from me: standing in front of the fridge is no place to plan your next meal.
Instead, take some time at the beginning of your tracking week, or on a Saturday morning, or even a midweek evening — whenever works for you — to plan a week’s worth of meals. If you’re suffering from blank-page syndrome, check out a good cookbook from the library or any online site that has recipes.
If all these ideas are too overwhelming, start smaller: Buy a rotisserie chicken (or roast your own), and think of three ways to use leftovers. Even if it’s just with a big mixed salad and a whole wheat roll, you’ve got a super-fast dinner that will help you check off some of your daily veggies — and one night’s dinner. Swap ideas for stretching chicken leftovers with one of your friends.
Make your shopping list with items grouped by type — even by aisle, if you are that familiar with your grocery store. Not only will this help you get around the store (and away from temptation) more quickly, it will also show you at a glance if the make-up of your diet is a little out of whack — for example, if you have an over-reliance on packaged goods rather than fresh.
Add five minutes to your active life every day
This one’s the quick fix. Whether you’re an exercise newbie or have been working out for a while, the goal is the same: Once a day, when you’re moving enough to put the glow in your cheeks, go for five minutes longer than you normally do. Push yourself on the treadmill; walk another turn around the block; do one more Sun Salutation in your yoga practice. If you’ve taken a class at the gym that has a fixed start and end time, then do a quick five minutes on the elliptical afterwards. Better yet, instead of just standing around in line waiting for the class to start, look down upon your classmates from the vantage point of an exercise bike, knowing you’re getting a far better warm-up than they are.
Here's my latest secret ... I let my kids workout on the Wii before I do then I do everything in my power to out do their scores. This makes them work harder if I beat their scores but it makes me feel like a kid if I out do theirs.
If you truly are brand new to exercise, then your five minutes might already be more than you’re used to. If you vow to walk briskly for just five minutes, who knows? Maybe you’ll want to carry on when the time’s up. (Remember, talk with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.)
Take your measurements
What’s this got to do with planning? Think of taking your measurements now as an insurance policy against the disappointment of weight-loss plateaus later. Even when you follow a plan faithfully, you may find some maddening weeks that your good efforts are going unnoticed on the scale. So take out the tape measure instead and look at the numbers. What may look like a plateau on the scale might actually be a part of the process, and inches might be whittling without you realizing it. This goes double if you’ve recently started an exercise plan.
Different people lose weight in different ways — and from different places. So knowing your measurements along the way can teach you a lot about your body, and remind you that while it’s tempting to compare your success to others’, your body is going to do things in its own, sweet way.
The bare minimum to measure is chest, thighs, arms, hips, buttocks and waist. Also consider measuring your neck, wrists and ankles. It’s not always easy to figure out the best place to measure, but as long as you’re consistent each time you measure, the results will still read accurately. It’s great if you have someone you can trust to measure you — some measurements can be trickier to capture if you’re not sure you’re holding the tape straight. But even if you take the DIY approach, here are a few tips:
Measure yourself with as few clothes on as possible — preferably naked
Use a plastic tape measure — cloth ones can stretch out over time
Keep the tape measure taught, but not squeezing you. You’re only cheating yourself if you’re sucking your breath in for a smaller number!
As you measure, look straight ahead and don't slouch to look down at your reading. Place one finger on the end of the tape measure, pull it away from your body, then read.
Write each measurement down as you take it.
We can all do this, we just have to be willing to believe we are worth the effort & then stick with it.