New Year’s Resolutions: Setting Yourself Up for Successful Weight Loss

New Year’s Resolutions: Setting Yourself Up for Successful Weight Loss

For many people, the New Year means making resolutions to improve their quality of life. And for many people, their number one resolution is losing weight.   Informal polls suggests that only 8% of those who make resolutions actually keep them. So why aren’t people successful?

Oftentimes, people get so excited to start anew, that they set themselves up for failure because the goals are not realistic or they don’t plan for long-term success. Do a little research to find the best way to overcome barriers. Understand how you will make your goals happen and how long they will realistically take.

In order to lose weight, you need to burn more energy (calories) than you eat.  The American Heart Association says that most people need to subtract about 500 calories per day from their diet to lose about 1 pound per week. Of course, your individual needs may differ with your health and physical condition, so it’s important to discuss your plan with your healthcare provider.

When you first start losing weight, your weight loss may be faster. As you burn the fat, your body will begin to go through phases where weight loss slows down as your metabolism changes. You may need to recharge your metabolism.


Boosting Your Metabolism

Once you reach age 40, your metabolism will steadily begin to slow, so it will be harder to lose weight. And men have a tendency to burn more calories than women, even when they rest. Men – that doesn’t give you a free pass to sit on the couch, though! While you can’t change your age, gender or genetics, you can help boost your metabolism in other ways.

Build muscle and reduce fat – Because a pound of muscle burns about 6 calories a day just to sustain itself and a pound of fat burns only 2 calories a day, the resting metabolic rate is much higher in people with more muscle.

Drink green tea or oolong tea. According to WebMD, these teas have caffeine and catechins which may boost your metabolism a few hours. Research suggests that the body may burn 17% more calories during moderately intense exercise if you drink two to four cups of tea.

Avoid crash diets which can confuse your metabolism. In a nutshell, when you reduce calories (less than 1,200 calories per day) for a period of time, your body’s natural instinct is to go into “hibernation” mode and burn fewer calories. When you increase your caloric intake, you may gain weight faster.

Get plenty of sleep. If you’re sleepy during the day, you may grab a sweet pick-me-up or a cup of coffee to get through the day. But you may wind up too tired after work to exercise. Sleep helps the body regenerate cells and gets you ready for the new day. While many people vary on the hours of sleep needed, the average person needs about 7 -1/2 hours of interrupted sleep to be productive.

Eat quality proteins. The body burns more calories digesting protein than fat or carbs. Choose high quality, lean meats such as seafood, white meat poultry, and low-fat dairy products. Roast, grill, or steam your protein, and be careful not to add extra fats when cooking.


Succeeding With Your Goals

Every day is a new day! You don’t have to make a change only one day a year. If you have a false start, get back up and start again. Here are some tips that may help you achieve your goal:


  1. Set mini goals along the way and reward yourself for your success. If you’re losing weight, get a manicure or a new pair of pants to celebrate these incremental successes.
  2. Plan. Plan. Plan. Plan your meals ahead of time. Considers what barriers will be in the way of your success. If you dine out frequently, know ahead of time what options are on the menu so you can look forward to something delicious and healthy while staying on track. If you need more in-depth help, your physician can refer you for outpatient nutritional counseling at Harnett Health.
  3. Make it fun – change up your routine so you don’t get bored. If you’ve not played Frisbee® in awhile, grab one and get out for some exercise. Don’t have one? Send an email to and include your name and mailing address, and we’ll send you a free folding flying disc. [limit one per household and a 25-mile radius around Harnett County, while supplies last]
  4. Incorporate exercise into everything you do. If you’re tired after work, take a brisk walk around the neighborhood before dinner. If you’re achy joints don’t want you to exercise, consider joining Harnett Health’s aquatic exercise program. A two day per week program is less than $40 per month and a three day per week is less than $50 per month. Call (910) 892-1000 ext 4610.
  5. Change your meal plan. Eating a larger 700-calorie breakfast in the morning may help give you the energy to get through the day. Eat a 500-calorie lunch in the afternoon to get you through to dinner, and then a 300-calorie dinner so you’re not so full before going to bed.


It’s not magic…it’s MATH:   To lose body fat, you must burn more energy that you eat so that your body has to use the fuel stored in fat cells. The only ways to lose weight are to increase the amount of fuel you burn through exercise, decrease the amount of calories you consume, or do both at the same time. The rate at which you can lose weight is determined by how fast the body burns energy.

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