If one of your goals for 2018 was to try and lose weight, you’re not alone, as more than half of Canadians say they resolve to become more physically active and healthy as part of their New Year’s resolutions. That being said, weight loss is also one of the most common resolutions that Canadians struggle with the most, and oftentimes fail at. Not necessarily because they don’t want to do the things they need to do in order to lose weight, but because of the pressure that comes along with it. For example, by saying you want to lose X amount of weight by a certain date. When that date comes and goes and you haven’t achieved the goal you were hoping to reach, that often leaves a person feeling discouraged and hopeless, and as though they have failed.
When it comes to setting and achieving New Year’s resolutions that relate to your health, it’s all about mentality and the way you view yourself. Rather than focusing on how much weight you want to lose and when, you should instead be focusing on the activities you can do and the lifestyle changes you can make in order to make your weight loss goals happen, says Leigh Vanderloo, a health promoter and physical activity researcher with ParticipACTION – a non-profit organization that has been helping Canadians reach their potential in making physical activity a part of their daily routines since 1971.
By setting very specific resolutions revolving around weight loss, it can sometimes feel more like a chore than something you actually look forward to doing. Walking, for example, while a very healthy activity to engage in, but for some it can feel a bit redundant and “boring”, so try making fitness more fun. Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests taking up new activities, such as swimming or ice-skating, or going for a bike ride or a hike on the Grouse Grind (weather permitting, of course.) If you’re not an outdoorsy person, you could also join a gym. Most gyms around Vancouver offer free 7-day trial memberships, that way you don’t have to commit to something right away. Alternatively, many recreation centres in and around Vancouver also have exercise equipment and have gym classes that you can sign up for – and you can even take a friend! It’s all about finding the best exercise routine for you and making sure it’s something you enjoy, that way you’re more likely to stick to it and less likely to fail.
Similarly, Bethany Vessey, a registered dietitian and personal trainer from Prince Edward Island, also encourages patients to throw away the scale. While you may need to know your weight for certain health purposes, a scale isn’t necessary for anything beyond that. When you focus on a number, that number can turn into an obsession, and that obsession can lead to one of two things: Failure and feeling discouraged and therefore not bothering to continue with exercising or healthy eating, or the complete opposite – developing an eating disorder (i.e. anorexia). A scale can often be a tool for individuals to determine their self-worth, which can also lead to mental illness such as depression and anxiety.
The amount of weight you lose is just a small factor in your success. While losing weight is certainly an accomplishment in and of itself, you should also focus on how making necessary lifestyle changes makes you feel. By making healthier choices and noticing the benefits, you not only improve your quality of life, but you also feel much happier as a result.