A new year is a new beginning. And with every new beginning, there is a sense of excitement and empowerment. If you are like most people, you look at the new year, and the beginning of January, as the time to make strong, positive, identifiable changes.
You make new year’s resolutions. And is this the first year you’ve done so? Most likely, no. According to one article, up to 80% of new year’s resolutions don’t see the light of February. Millions of people sign up for the gym or other fitness program, purchase diet books, diet pills and even food-delivery diets such as Jenny Craig or NutriSystem.
Still millions of others resolve to smoke that last cigarette on December 31. The good intentions to treat one’s body much better are there.
One market research poll, showed that of the top four common resolutions for 2018 (last year), three involve health and well-being: eat healthier (number one at 37%), get more exercise (37%), save more money (37%), and focus on self-care (24%). Another showed that saving money was the top resolution (53%), followed by “lose weight or get in shape” at number two with 45%.
Resolutions are as diverse as Americans – they range from learning a new language or skill, to adopting a new family pet, to moving or redecorating, to get a new job, buy a new car or other vehicle, seek out new friends, and on and on.
Of all resolutions, the ones that focus on improving health and physique remain the most common year after year.
Steps to Keeping Resolutions
What is the key to sticking with a new year’s resolution to improve health? You may say, “joining the gym,” or “cutting down to 1700 calories per day” and “cutting down significantly on carbs and cutting out sweets.”
However, these are only the results of the key. The key to making all your resolutions stick is your brain, your approach, your mindset at the outset. Your brain can provide and maintain self-discipline or willpower. It also can help keep you in check.
US News contributor Joseph Luciani, in his aforementioned article about why resolutions tend to be short-lived, explains that any change incites some emotional stress, and that this stress can cause the sabotaging that leads to a resolution’s early demise.
There are some great guidelines that can help you create the right mindset that will fortify your willpower.
Keep your resolutions reasonable. OK, so you resolve to lose 30 pounds. If you resolve to lose 30 pounds by Valentine’s Day, that’s not reasonable. If you resolve to lose 30 pounds by, say, July 4th, that is very reasonable, so much so that you will also likely continue the healthy habits that allowed for the slow but steady transformation. You can then donate your fat clothes!
Similarly, start small. As the adage asserts, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Meaning, you cannot start working out every single day if you haven’t been exercising in year or at all. Start your fitness routine slowly – and by fitness routine, it can be learning something fun like tennis or ping pong; it isn’t just machines at the gym. Also, says the American Psychological Association, when changing your diet to be one that is healthier and more nutritious, you don’t have to “give up” desserts. Instead, swap conventional desserts for naturally vanilla-flavored yogurt, berries and oats. By the way, your sweet tooth will adjust in just a couple weeks!
Break down the big goal into sub goals. In keeping with our example, the big goal is 30 pounds of weight to lose by July 4th. The smaller goals will be lose a certain amount by a certain day in the month – let’s say, five pounds per month. Similarly with the exercise part of your new health regimen, add more weight to your machines as you can perform 15 reps in each of three sets. Start with the new added weight at 10 reps per set (three sets) and work up to 15 reps.
Be in the moment. It’s ok to visualize your thinner, more sexy and glowing self romping on the beach, but don’t dwell in the future. By concentrating on the moment you are in, you nourish that willpower and are not as at risk for quitting.
Accept some “down” days. In keeping with the weight loss theme, you will have times and days where you just give in to that cookie or slice of cheesecake. Again, this is where the brain shines: your mindset of self-forgiveness and actually allowing yourself an occasional treat will help you get back on track. In fact, a better approach? Start out knowing you will indulge in “treat days.” Just be reasonable, maybe 2 a month – which makes those treats even sweeter!
Reward yourself when you reach each sub-goal. You can never count fully on anyone else cheerleading you all the time (most people have times of preoccupation), so do it yourself. Take yourself somewhere, or buy something for yourself. Save a big self-congratulations present when you reach that ultimate goal – have a party and invite all those who support you.
Take your supplements. As you lose weight and adopt habits that promote better energy, sleep, mood and well-being, remember that dietary supplements are a key part of your routine. Just because you are now eating outstanding amounts of nutrients every day and refraining from eating junk calories, doesn’t mean your body can operate optimally. Supplements such as a quality multivitamin, omega 3 EFAs, antioxidants and probiotics will give you the boost into the optimum well-being zone.
How Probiotics Can Help
Taking probiotics every day help replenish and enrich the colonies of beneficial bacteria, allowing them to support good health primarily through helping improve immune and digestive function. After time, probiotics can restore healthy balance (called “homeostasis"), as both immune and digestive systems, when functioning optimally, help increase resistance to aging-induced degradation of other systems. Better digestive health, for example, has been linked with better mood sustenance via the enteric nervous system that lines the entire gastrointestinal tract.
But did you know that probiotics can assist you to reach your goal weight and lose fat? Some research has suggested several manners in which specific probiotics help your body shed unwanted – and unhealthy – pounds.
One way may be by preventing your body from absorbing some of the fat contained in foods by flushing them out. A study using Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 showed that it suppressed fat absorption.
Another mechanism of action from a multi-strain supplement (that combines several Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria) is to stimulate release of GLP-1, a hormone that induces that fullness feeling – meaning, you eat less.
The strain Lactobacillus paracasei F19 was shown to be favorably linked to reducing fat storage via increasing levels of angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4), a lipoprotein lipase inhibitor. The study showed that ANGPTL4 was higher in the group that took the probiotic. The authors in their abstract believe that one potentially useful approach to combating obesity and overweight is “to exploit the growing consensus that beneficial gut microbiota could be of use…”
Further, certain strains of Lactobacillus may help your body rid itself of some fat, especially in the mid-section – the dreaded belly fat. For example, participants in one study who consumed yogurt containing Lactobacillus fermentum or yogurt with Lactobacillus amylovorus showed an average of 3% and 4% total body fat reduction, respectively, in six weeks.
Obese individuals who embark on a diet program may gain assistance to drop weight through taking Lactobacillus rhamnosus. In one six-month study of 125 overweight men and women who took either placebo or Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724, women in the probiotic group had significantly more weight lost than women taking the placebo after 12 weeks and 24 weeks. They continued to lose body weight and fat mass during the weight maintenance period (another 12 weeks), compared to the opposite in women taking placebo. These effects were not as significant in men, however.
Making resolutions to live more fruitful, healthier and happier lives is always something to be proud of. And resolving to become healthier via diet and exercise is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. With the sheer bounty of healthy and better-for-you foods and beverages, many with enticingly exotic flavors, slimming down and optimizing your health has never been easier.