Pharos-Tribune

January 20, 2014

AMEEN: Taking charge to lose

David Ameen
Guest columnist

---- — With each new year comes the start of new year resolutions. Chances are, you’ve been thinking about what you will choose to improve for 2014 and how you plan to do it. For many people, focusing on health and healthier habits is a good place to start. We thought we would “weigh in” with information that is good for your goals and good for you, including three secrets to boost your willpower

Nearly every adult in the United States resolved to change some behavior in 2012, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. (I’m sure this statistic did not waver much for 2013 either.) However, people consistently reported that a lack of willpower was the top reason they fell short of losing weight, saving more money, exercising, or making whatever other lifestyle change they resolved to achieve.

What’s the secret to willpower? Here are three secrets that may be of help:

Avoid situations where you will be tempted. If you’re likely to give in to treats near the office coffee station, take your break somewhere else.

Plan ahead. If you want to exercise after work, schedule a specific time to do that instead of telling yourself you’ll do it sometime that night. Put that specific time in your calendar.

Try not to take on too much at once. Research shows that using willpower in one area may drain self-control in other areas of your life where you will need willpower soon. Focus on one goal, strengthen your willpower to achieve it, and then take on more goals.

Slimming down doesn’t have to involve big steps.

If you want to lose weight, don’t make drastic changes all at once – otherwise, you may be more likely to give up on your goals. Aiming for a 1-to-2 pound weekly weight loss is sensible and realistic.

As you get started, tell yourself things like:

I will add 10 minutes of physical activity to my daily routine.

I will avoid second helpings at meals.

Once you’re comfortable with small changes like these, add some more.

I will get 20 minutes of movement daily.

I will drink water or fat-free milk instead of soft drinks.

Life is worth living, so enjoy it – indulge without overindulging

You don’t have to deprive yourself to keep from packing on pounds, if that is one of your goals. In fact, that could make it harder for you to achieve that goal. Consider these tips:

Combine your treat with healthful foods. You can still have a favorite high-calorie treat. Eat smaller servings of it with lower calorie options. Instead of two scoops of ice cream, have one scoop with strawberries.

Schedule a treat-time. Create regular times to have your favorite food. For chocoholics, maybe you have a small square of chocolate after dinner every night. Once you’re in the habit of having your treat at designated times, you may stop thinking about the treat and giving in to cravings at other times.

Whatever your health goals may be for 2014, we want you to stick with them. Here’s to your health in the happiest of new years!

David Ameen is president and CEO of Logansport Memorial Hospital. He can be reached via email at emailus@logansportmemorial.org