The new year is like a blank slate for your goals. And weight loss may be at the top of your resolution list.
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But instead of picking a specific number you want to hit on the scale, this year, why not try a weight-loss-related resolution (or two) that will help you shed pounds while setting up some healthy, sustainable habits?
Read on to learn the five resolutions weight-loss experts recommend you try this year.
1. Find Your Happy Weight
Choosing a goal weight is a pretty common resolution, Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, obesity medicine physician-scientist, tells LIVESTRONG.com. But instead, she recommends finding the happiest, healthiest weight for your body, rather than choosing a specific number.
"If you ask any of my patients, they will tell you that I never give them a weight target," Dr. Stanford says. "My goal is to get them to the happiest, healthiest weight for them."
Although many health professionals still use body mass index (BMI) as a marker of health, she recommends you avoid using this measure for guidance. BMI varies from person to person, she says, and it doesn't provide a well-rounded picture of your health.
Dr. Stanford recommends you work with a doctor or health care professional to help find the healthiest weight for your specific body. This approach takes into account factors like your height, muscle mass and any pre-existing conditions you may have to help personalize your approach to weight loss. In the long run, your happy weight is a lot more sustainable than a number you may imagine in your head.
2. Cook More Meals Than You Eat Out
For many people, cooking every single meal of the day is a pretty unrealistic goal — and the point of resolutions is to choose something attainable. Instead, try to cook more meals at home than you order or eat out, suggests Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, registered dietitian, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table.
And you can personalize this goal even more, depending on what feels doable for you. Some people may feel comfortable putting a weekly timeline on this one. In other words, cook more meals than you eat out in a week. For those who eat out pretty often, it may be a daily thing: Cook more meals than you eat out in a day.
Cooking at home allows you to choose foods that are not only nourishing but enjoyable for you and your family. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to learn some new kitchen skills and spend more quality time with loved ones.
"Homemade meals that are made with friends or family provide more than a meal — they help you explore invaluable cooking skills while helping you connect with others," Taub-Dix says. "[Even consider] sharing pot luck dinners so you only have to make one dish."
3. Enjoy Your Favorite Foods Without Guilt
No matter your weight-loss goals, you deserve to enjoy your favorite foods without a dish of guilt on the side, Taub-Dix says. As a resolution, she suggests you prioritize truly enjoying the food you eat, including the dishes, snacks or treats that you may consider to be "bad" or "cheat" foods.
So, how do you actually go about enjoying your favorite indulgent foods without a pang of guilt? Taub-Dix suggests you try eating with your entire body, including your mind, your mouth, your eyes, your nose and (most importantly) your stomach. Use all your senses to zero in on your food to truly enjoy the experience of eating.
"When you savor the food you eat, the meal will become more memorable and provide satiation that brings comfort," she says.
4. Move Your Body (in Some Way) Every Day
Exercising every single day is a lofty resolution for even the most devoted gym-goers. Instead, Taub-Dix and Dr. Stanford recommend you try to move your body in some way, shape or form each day. And for different people, that movement will look different.
"[You don't need to] call it exercise, buy fancy outfits and spend most of your salary joining a fancy gym," Taub-Dix says. Moving your body can be as simple as parking farther away from a store and walking across a lot, picking up the pace of your daily dog walk or adding a few dance moves to your Sunday cleaning routine.
In an ideal world, you should aim for about 30 minutes of movement each day, Dr. Stanford says. But any kind of improvement from where you're currently at is an excellent resolution and step (pun intended) in the right direction.
5. Set a Regular Bedtime Routine
Your sleep affects your weight-loss goals (and overall health) more than you may think, so that's why Dr. Stanford suggests you include sleep in your resolutions.
For those on a weight- or fat-loss regime, not getting enough sleep can actually deter your progress, according to an October 2010 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Sleep deprivation actually causes an increase in your hunger hormones, making you feel less satisfied with the meals you eat.
Setting a realistic bedtime each night is a great place to start, Dr. Stanford says. Everyone's sleep needs are different, but getting seven to nine hours each night is ideal for overall health.
Of course, things will come up here and there that prevent you from meeting this goal each night. Instead, try to hit your ideal bedtime at least five or six days of the week.
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