With research suggesting that the average person gains a couple of kilos at Christmas time — and rarely loses it — you could be forgiven for starting 2021 with a little extra weight on board.
While new year dieting campaigns heavily target consumers throughout the first few weeks of January, with many of us still enjoying holidays, it’s rarely the best time to begin an aggressive new diet and exercise campaign. Rather, waiting until the Christmas dust has settled and taking time to choose the right diet for you is a far more powerful strategy to rid yourself of any extra Christmas kilos for good.
So if one of your goals for 2021 is to get your diet and lifestyle on track, here are some easy steps towards sustainable weight loss.
1. Pick your time
Weight loss is the most common New Year’s resolution, yet it’s the worst time to commit to a new diet. If losing weight is on your list for 2021, simply waiting until mid-to-late January, or even February, is one of the smartest things you can do.
Here, you have time to enjoy your holidays, gradually get back into training and get organised enough to be able to focus fully on calorie-controlled eating to help you get the results you are wanting long-term. This approach is far more effective than the most commonly adopted alternative, in which we diet strictly for a day or two after New Year’s Eve before promptly falling off the wagon — which really is a big waste of time.
2. Pick your plan
Any diet — paleo, keto, low-carb, Atkins, 5:2, 16:6, to name a few — will work when followed, but the issue with most diets is that while they may work initially, they are rarely followed long enough to give you the results you are looking for. So as the new year rolls around, take some time to really consider what plan will be right for you, long-term.
Do you need the support of a dietitian to touch base regularly and support you? Do you know that strict diets do not work for you and are better with a more moderate approach? Or with your lifestyle, will you find it easier to be strict a few days each week rather than every single day? Matching the right diet to the right person is crucial if you want any weight loss success maintained.
3. Focus on what you should be eating, even now
Diets often focus on what foods we should eat less of and avoid, and naturally the more we are told not to do something… well, you know the rest. In the case of calorie-controlled eating, this means that the easiest thing we can all do immediately to lower calorie intake is to focus on low-calorie foods for building the foundation of the diet.
Here, the simple act of adding extra veggies to each meal — for example, a veggie juice at breakfast, salad at lunch and cooked veggies at dinner — will instantly lower the overall calorie load of the diet, while actually eating more and supporting weight loss. And best of all there is no need to wait until mid-to-late January to start doing this.
4. Become reacquainted with hunger
Human beings rarely eat because they are hungry, rather we eat because it is meal time, because others are eating or because tempting foods are on offer.
Not only does non-hungry eating fuel calorie overconsumption, but it also means that we are less likely to buffer our calorie intake when we have overeaten. When there are plenty of extra calories around, and mindless munching on snacks, treats, alcoholic drinks and party food is highly likely, it’s a great time to get in touch with your hunger. All you need to do is ask yourself if you are really, really hungry before food enters your mouth, and when you have overeaten, make a concerted effort to only eat again when you are actually feeling hungry. It is an incredibly simple strategy but a very effective one.
5. Get a buddy
We are social creatures and are often spending many hours of our lives with the same people, whether this translates into family, friends or workmates. While it is possible to develop laser-beam focus when you are adopting a new diet and exercise regime, things become a whole lot easier when the people around you are too committed to these same goals. This means that getting your partner, bestie or work wife on board with any major change to your daily diet or exercise will not only make it much easier to keep focused but you can then naturally play the part of each other’s cheerleader when times are tough. This is just one of the reasons that online community weight loss programs work so well — you are all talking the same language and working through the same challenges. Finding your own community will make long-term weight loss in 2021 a whole lot easier.
Author Susie Burrell is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Me, and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.