4 questions to ask yourself before setting a New Year’s resolution to lose weight

by | Dec 30, 2021 | Last updated Feb 15, 2022

We always say you don’t need a new year, new month, or even a Monday to start developing healthier habits—you can start working toward your goals as soon as you decide to. However, a new year can feel like a fresh start and a clean slate to tackle your health and wellness resolutions, and provide you with the boost of motivation you need. 

While wanting to eat healthier, get more exercise, and lose weight are all worthwhile ambitions, it’s easy to fall into a trap of making drastic changes on January 1st, only to abandon them after a few days or weeks because they’re not sustainable. Why? January is peak season for workout challenges, detoxes, and elimination diets, which might seem like a good idea after a post-holiday sugar crash, but aren’t sustainable in the long-term. 

If losing weight is one of your big goals for 2022, it’s easy to fall into get-slim-quick schemes or new fad diets to try to get there. Before you commit to any weight loss-related resolutions—whether that’s working out more, cutting out ultra-processed foods, or trying intermittent fasting—it’s important to take a moment to understand whether these changes are going to serve you in the long term. Here are four questions to ask yourself before committing your weight-loss resolutions:

Question 1: Why do you want to make this resolution?

Now is the time to take a moment to reflect and better understand why you want to commit to a specific resolution. To understand why you want to commit to a specific resolution, it can help to ask yourself how you think your life might be different a few months down the line.

If your resolution is to give up ultra-processed foods, is it because you want to improve your health? Is it because you’re inspired by a celebrity that does the same? Is it because you want to feel more energized? Is it because you think it will make you lose more belly fat? Is it because you want to lose weight more quickly?

Once you’ve identified a few of the reasons why you want to set this goal for yourself, it’s important to take a moment to consider whether the result you expect to come from sticking with your resolution is realistic. In this case, giving up ultra-processed foods may make you feel more energized, but there is no guarantee that it will make you lose weight more quickly, or lose more belly fat.

Question 2: Are there other ways you could achieve this goal?

If you plan to reach your goal of losing weight by setting a resolution to do a 30-day elimination diet or eating only one meal per day, it likely won’t be sustainable. Beyond adding stress to your life by needing to stick to a very rigid and restrictive plan, even if you lose weight initially, you’ll likely see the number on the scale creep back up once you start allowing yourself to eat more normally (read: sustainably) again. 

Instead of thinking about get-slim-quick schemes, focus on long-term, sustainable changes you can make to reach your goal. A few alternative ways to work towards your weight loss goal include cooking dinner at home 5 days per week, swapping your daily ice cream with fresh fruit, eating eggs and whole-grain toast for breakfast instead of a pastry and latte, or taking a 20-minute walk every evening. There’s no magic formula to lose weight. Understanding why you make certain choices is the key to making effective changes—that’s why Noom takes this approach to help you achieve sustainable weight loss. 

Question 3: Is it enjoyable?

One of the biggest misconceptions about making healthy changes to lose weight is that it has to be hard. Sure, getting up at 7 a.m. to go for a run isn’t as easy as sleeping in, and saying no to a third piece of pizza requires some deliberate decision making. But the idea of “no pain, no gain” is simply not true. An accomplishment doesn’t have to be challenging in order for it to be celebrated or worthwhile. 

If you want to move your body more, find exercises you like. Trade in that arduous HIIT class you hate for a fun dance cardio class or a brisk walk with a friend. If you’re looking to add more whole foods to your diet, don’t force-feed yourself broccoli if you enjoy carrots and green beans more. Knowing your “why” will help keep you motivated to achieve your goal, but if you don’t enjoy the process, you might abandon your goals altogether. 

Question 4: Is it sustainable?

Whether or not you can stick to a resolution boils down to this simple question: can I see myself doing this long-term? Ask yourself if you will likely keep up this resolution a year from now or even six months from now. If not, it’s not likely to be sustainable or helpful in reaching your long-term goals. If you take on something that’s not realistic (i.e. cutting out entire food groups you love or embarking on a challenging workout plan you don’t enjoy), you’re likely to abandon it in a few weeks or months, which will leave you feeling defeated. 

Instead, think back to question two: what are other ways you can achieve your weight-loss goal? For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds, instead of doing a strict form of intermittent fasting like eating one big meal a day (which is likely not sustainable), could you focus instead on mindful eating and honing your hunger and fullness cues, eating several well-balanced meals and snacks throughout the day?

Bottom line: Slow and steady wins the race

If your big goal in the New Year is to lose weight, we’ll be here to support you and cheer you on every step of the way. When setting resolutions to achieve this goal, remember that it’s unlikely you’ll lose a large amount of weight in a short period of time. No pill, supplement, or crash diet will replace a balanced diet along with moving your body regularly. When it comes to weight loss, there is no such thing as a quick fix. Remember: being realistic about your health resolutions can help you achieve the results you’re looking for and enjoy the process.

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