It stinks to be a psychologist who studies eating this time of year. It stinks because I feel like you do. I feel gluttonous, overstuffed, tired, and both sad and relieved that the holidays are over. I want to set some New Year’s resolutions that will save my psyche and leave my pants a bit looser. But, I know too much and I can’t.
I know that 25% of people will give up on their New Year’s resolutions this week. I know that the big goals, those that feel so good to set, pretty much always fail to reap rewards. I know that approximately 80% of us wish for weight loss right now. I know all of this not because I’m a cynic or a psychic but because I’m a health psychologist. I’ve seen the data time and time again. I could stick in a couple dozen of citations right here, but I don’t want to look them up to check the dates, so you’re just going to have to trust me on this (this is the joy of writing a blog instead of a research paper).
So, once we throw away the leftover and aging cake, cookies, and candy (or in my case, all three) what can we do?
We must talk ourselves off of the ledge of remorse. We need to set goals for gradual improvements to the bad habits that emerged during the holidays and let healthy habits settle in. We should not start something we cannot finish. It is a really bad idea to eliminate an entire type of food (e.g., “carbs”) from our repertoires. We cannot sustain doing something that makes us miserable: a fast, a cleanse, a rinse (is there such a thing? I just made that up) or anything else that will leave us hungry and grumpy. We should exercise – even if we don’t want to — because we’ll feel better if we do.
We are all imperfect and we need to embrace who we are in 2014, even as we view ourselves as a work in progress. But, we will not diet. Whatever we do, we must not diet. Changing our eating habits gradually and permanently is the only proven method to lasting weight loss.
Smart People Don’t Diet.
(That’s the title of the book I wrote. It will be available later this year.)
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