New research results released by the NHF today, Tuesday 12th January 2010 shows that over the past twelve months 69% of female participants and 49% of male participants have tried to lose weight. However, only 42% of women and 29% of men actually succeeded in losing weight. For 2010, the Nutrition & Health Foundation (NHF) is strongly urging people to take time out and set a realistic goal plan before embarking on a new year’s resolution to lose weight and become more active.
“With obesity levels in Ireland reaching epidemic proportions, this year more and more people are likely to make dieting their New Year’s resolution,” says Dr Muireann Cullen, Manager of the Nutrition & Health Foundation. “However, for many of us, this will be a ritual we are all too familiar with. At this time of year, in particular, it can be tempting to try a diet that promises a rapid weight loss solution, however numerous studies have proven that fad diets don’t work in the long run. Lose weight rapidly and you’ll almost certainly suffer a rebound effect. Rapid weight loss slows our metabolism and makes it much easier to regain not only the lost weight, but a bit extra as well.”
45% of respondents to the survey had gained weight over the course of the year. For the vast majority of participants (85%) that had gained weight in the last 12 months, it was unintentional. Generally, we gain weight as we age. A few pounds over the years are not a problem, but people who gain more than 9kg/20lb compared to their weight as an 18-year-old will rapidly increase their risk of health problems due to that extra weight. However, the survey revealed that 79% (more than three in four participants) had gained 10kg/22lbs since they were 18th with only 18% (less than one in five participants) not having gained weight since 18.
“Losing weight and keeping the weight off can give you a better quality of life, not only will you look and feel better, but the health benefits are astounding, reducing the risk of life threatening diseases such as type-2 diabetes and heart disease,” continued Dr Cullen. “Most people begin new diet and fitness programs with good intentions, but unfortunately, many fail to get past even the first few weeks of their new commitment. But, with a sound plan and proper guidance in the areas of education, exercise and nutrition, a real, lasting lifestyle change is possible. It also is important for people to recognise that effective, long-term health and wellness cannot be achieved overnight. This requires a continuous, balanced approach to exercise and nutrition mapped to an individual’s unique needs and goals,” concluded Dr Cullen.
The NHFs top tips for success in 2010
Ø There is No Bad Time to get Started. Eliminate excuses that prevent the start of your healthy lifestyle. Too often people make commitments but then fall into the “I’m too busy right now” or I’ll start next week” trap. There is no time like the present. Go for a walk or take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you start a program in January, but fall off the wagon, start again.
Ø Set SMART goals. S-Specific M-measurable A-Attainable R-Relevant (must mean something to you) T- Timetable. Make sure you these goals are small, manageable and are achievable in less than a year’s time.
Ø Set a reward for when you reach each step of your plan. If you have a goal that makes you excited then you are more likely to strive for this result. Think carefully about this one is your reward can have a major impact and boost your results and motivation.
Ø Be specific about what actions you will take to reach your weight loss resolution. What type of exercise will you do and how often? What food plan will you follow and how will you track your calorie intake? Who will you use for support in your journey?
Ø Practice patience. You didn’t gain the extra weight overnight so don’t expect it to miraculously melt off overnight either. Give your body time to adjust to the new lifestyle and expect plateaus along the way.
Ø Don’t just ditch your old habits. If you want to make your resolution to permanently lose the weight, than you have to be willing to taker on new healthier behaviours. Use a flexible diet plan that doesn’t require you to omit food groups. Too many restrictions will leave you feeling deprived and send you back to your old eating habits in no time.
Ø Keep a food diary for a week and highlight all the foods that fit into this category. Then decide what you want to start reducing, one at a time. Look online or in cookbooks for easy recipes if you don’t have a lot of time to cook, steam vegetables or use pre-prepared vegetables to save time, cook extra so you can freeze leftovers for those nights you don’t have time to cook, cut up extra lettuce to store for a fast and easy fresh salad, and pack a lunch instead of buying.
Ø Make Time for Fitness. Time or lack of it, is perceived to be one of the most daunting barriers to maintaining a regular fitness program. It is important to schedule your workout time just as you would a business meeting or family activity. People make time for the things that are important to them and a fitness program should be no different. Remember to invest in yourself – it pays dividends.
Ø Be Realistic. Being fit and staying fit is a continuous pursuit. Don’t place too much pressure on yourself by attempting to do too much too soon, only to end up experiencing frustration and failure. The key is to start slow and increase your intensity over time.
Ø Set Short-Term Goals. Determine what you want to accomplish and set a series of challenging, but achievable milestones along the way. Identifying and accomplishing specific goals will help you build confidence as you progress through your fitness program.