New Year’s resolutions? Ho-hum. According to a new study, most New Year’s resolutions, at least those related to eating and dieting, peter out by mid-February. These researchers tabulated data on Internet-searches for recipes from popular diets. This methodology has weaknesses, but the results were interesting.
Best Diets for “Adherence”
New Year dieters stayed longest on Weight Watchers, Paleo, and Low-Carb diets, if you can call 6 weeks “long”. South Beach fared the worst – after only 3 weeks people wanted out.
Lots of people made diet-related resolutions that were more vague: eating less overall (63%) and eating more fruits and vegetables (50%). Exercising more was also popular (63%). Great in the abstract, but generalized goals don’t often translate into concrete steps, which might explain what I’d call the “peter-pout principle”.
Popular Diets ≠ Quality Diets
Other than Weight Watchers, none of the most popular diets were highly valued by the experts in the, US News’ overall “Best Diets of 2021”. Once again, their experts ranked these 3 diets as best overall:
• Mediterranean Diet: Plenty of fruits, vegetables, fish, emphasizes healthy fats like olive oil, and nuts, and doesn’t “forbid” anything.
• DASH Diet: Helps fight hypertension and manage diabetes but, with its emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods, it works for everyone in the family. Also – nothing is prohibited.
• Flexitarian Diet: Not a vegetarian diet, but “vegetarian-forward,” focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based protein. Dairy foods, meat, poultry and fish are included, just less.
Experts also rated the Flexitarian Diet tops for weight loss, but remember that weight loss isn’t just about what you eat, but also how much. Any of the above three can work for weight loss and help you eat better.
Unlike the top 3 diets above, popular fad diets get tons of buzz, but their sensationalism come at a cost: strict rules, exclude many foods, or entire food groups. After a few weeks, people feel deprived, so adherence begins to fade.
If you’ve flirted with fad diets, make 2021 your year to get real. Swap out gimmicky diets for evidence-based eating styles that you can stay with long-term and that deliver the goods health-wise. Here are some great tips for achieving your goals:
Goals Are YOURS, No One Else’s
Forget what someone else things you should weigh or how they think you should be eating or exercising. Make a goal that YOU are comfortable with.
Be A Baby About Goal Steps!
Biggest mistake is changing things too fast. We all want fast, dramatic results, but let’s learn from the past: that doesn’t work! Instead, set very small goals that you KNOW you’ll accomplish. Success breeds success, and gives us a mood lift as well.
Losing only 5% of your body weight brings a huge health benefit. If you’re 200 pounds now, that’s just 10 pounds away from better health. When you reach that goal, re-evaluate. Want more? OK, but it’s fine to just sustaining your goal for a while.
Losing 2 pounds per month sounds slow, but it’s 24 pounds in a year, and you may not even have to lose that much.
Go Into The Weeds
Make goals simple and bite-sized. Instead of “eating more fruits and vegetables”, start by just making sure you get one of each sometime during the day. Not a ton, just a half-cup of veggies and a small piece of fruit. Done. Hate kale? Ditch it. Pick a veggie you like — they’ re all fine.
Instead of “I’ll exercise every day”, start with a mini-goal of walking 10 minutes three times this week.
Example: If you’re working from home, borrow 10 minutes from what used to be your commuting time. Each 10 minutes is half a mile and it adds up!
Setbacks Are Normal! So is Pivoting
Having an unplanned cookie doesn’t “shoot the whole day’s (or week’s) diet.” It’s not fatal, it’s a cookie. Keep it in perspective and just resume your goal track. If the setback was something that couldn’t be helped, accept that. It’s called “life.” If it’s something you could have influenced, make a note to anticipate it next time, and how you’ll handle it.
My own example: If a full gym workout isn’t possible, I try and go anyway, for whatever time I can spare. Sometimes I’m in and out in 15 minutes, but it helps me keep the habit going so I don’t get used to skipping it. Gym is closed? Switch to walking. Just do what you can. Not perfect, just better.
“Perfect” Is Arbitrary & Useless
It’s also unsustainable, making failure a certainty. Lose the term. Better is better than perfect!