New Year, new you? It’s that time of year when we typically begin to realize that we’re probably not going to keep up with the resolutions we decided upon at the end of the previous year–a mere 2 weeks ago. Especially if that resolution was to simply “lose weight.” It’s one of the most common resolutions but it’s not a very good one. For one, it’s got a negative connotation – lose, loser, lost. Also, it is an extremely vague goal that is overwhelming for most people to achieve. However, it is important to maintain a healthy weight for your body type. In this blog, we’ll discuss how to flip that negative resolution into a positive one that will help you to develop good habits that will keep you healthy.
The Importance of Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight for your body type is important for preventing a variety of diseases and disabilities, both physical and mental. For example, obesity can lead to poor mental health and poor quality of life in addition to physical health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. These conditions can be a result of factors such as behavior–inactivity, diet, medication use, etc.–or genetics.
Conversely, being underweight also has its dangers. Some risks of being underweight include malnutrition, osteoporosis, decreased immune function, fertility issues, and growth and development issues–particularly in children and teenagers.
How do I determine if I’m overweight or underweight?
A simple way of determining if you’re at a healthy weight for your body type is to measure your body mass index (BMI). Your BMI is your weight divided by your height squared. For ease, try this handy calculator from the CDC. Your BMI determines if you are overweight, healthy, or underweight for your body height. That calculator will also tell you what your ideal weight should be, which is a great starting point for building your healthy weight goals!
Disclaimer: If you are an athletic person with high muscle mass, the BMI calculator may overestimate your body fat. Alternatively, if you are older and have lost muscle, your BMI may underestimate your body fat. In these cases, it is best to talk with your doctor about what weight is best for your body type.
Setting Healthy Weight Goals
Once you’ve determined your BMI, you can begin setting achievable goals for the year ahead. Achievable is a keyword here, because if your goals are too lofty, then you will likely give up before the year is through. When determining your goals, think SMART:
Goals like “lose weight” are much too vague. Will you consider your goal achieved if you lose only 1 pound? Probably not. Get specific, but also be realistic. If you need to lose 100 pounds in order to achieve your healthy weight per your BMI, then that may be too overwhelming a goal for you to achieve in just a year. So try something like “lose 20 pounds by the end of the year through eating healthy and exercising.” This way, by the end of the year you will have established healthy habits that will carry on to the following year allowing you to set new goals for reaching your ideal weight. So let’s talk about habits…
Developing Healthy Habits
In order to achieve your goals, you should build daily habits and establish checkpoints. Start slow. If you decide that in the new year, you’re suddenly going to exercise for an hour each day, you likely won’t. Instead, try starting out small with something like 10 minutes of exercise a day. It’s an easy way to start out and as you become more comfortable with it, you’ll be able to add on more time to eventually build you up to a full hour of exercise per day. You may even end up enjoying it (as explained in this fun, animated article from The Lilly). Set up checkpoints every couple of months to evaluate your progress and determine if adding time or specific exercises is doable, or if you need to stick to just 10 minutes.
Here are some helpful tips for creating healthy habits:
In order to change or improve your behavior, it’s important to be aware of the habits you already have. Try to determine what triggers the habits you want to change. For example, if you keep a tin can of chocolate candy on your coffee table, you may find yourself eating too much chocolate while watching TV every night. How do you change this habit? Move the tin can of chocolate candy to the kitchen – maybe even put it in the pantry, so that it’s out of sight, out of mind. That way you’ll only eat the chocolate candy on special occasions when you actively think of it.
Make a plan of small, realistic goals and ways to achieve them. For example, if you have a goal to do yoga for 10 minutes each day, then keep your yoga mat in a location that will be easy to pull out and use. Or find a space in the house where your yoga mat can stay in position all the time, making it even easier for you to practice. Try setting alerts on your phone for a good time each day to practice your yoga. That way it’s time you’ve blocked out of your day for that one purpose.
It’s easy to be down on yourself when you miss a day of exercise or eat too much junk food. But it’s important to stay positive, give yourself a break, and get back to it the next day. Negative thoughts will only keep you down. Try keeping a daily journal of your progress. When looking back on it, you’ll likely find that you have more good days than bad and that’s progress!
Perhaps the changes you’ve been making aren’t working for you. Rather than giving up, try approaching it from another angle. Consider why your plan hasn’t been working and brainstorm ways of adjusting your plan to make it work for you. When reflecting on this, ask yourself these 5 questions, and don’t give up! Remember that it’s a journey and you won’t see results overnight.
We wish you the best of luck on your healthy weight journey. Be safe while using exercise equipment and don’t push yourself beyond your body’s abilities. Should you need us, your #BestNeighborsEver are open 24/7/365. Find your nearest Neighbors here.