How to really lose that 5 pounds this year: Be realistic, think positive

Jan 6, 2011

Have you resolved to lose 5 pounds in 2011?

Join the club.

Losing a little weight is a perennial goal on many people’s New Year’s resolution list … and failure to achieve that goal is the primary reason why we keep resolving to lose that 5 pounds year after year.

Judith S. Stern, UC Davis nutrition professor and author of hundreds of articles on obesity and nutrition, says that setting a weight-loss goal is a good thing. “If you don’t make a resolution, you don’t have something to reach for. Resolutions are about hope.”

But no one said it was going to be easy. “Losing weight is even harder than quitting smoking. You can always not smoke, but you can’t not eat,” Stern says. “You’ll die without food.”

However, Stern — who has been on her own weight-loss journey — advises resolution-makers to set realistic weight-loss goals. Here are her recommendations:

  1. Keep a journal of what you eat and write down your weight every day. “We need cues to help us deal with weight,” Stern says.

  2. Buy a scale that registers to one-tenth of a pound. “Those whole pounds can be hard to deal with,” Stern says. “I tell my husband when I’ve lost two-tenths of a pound.”

  3. pedometer
    Get a pedometer, and steadily increase your average daily numbers (rather than, for example, trying to achieve the recommended 10,000 steps per day at the start). “If I don’t make my numbers, I walk around my house and put things away one at a time,” Stern says. “When I started I was walking 3,000 steps per day, and now I’m averaging around 8,000 steps.”

  4. Aim to lose about 3 to 4 pounds per month.

Most importantly, frame your weight-loss resolution in a way that doesn’t court failure. Setting short-term goals is a good way to go, such as losing 3 pounds in 3 weeks, or exercising 10 times in the coming month.

A positive resolution for many people, especially those who have already lost some weight, may be to simply maintain their current weight throughout the year.

“When you make a New Year’s resolution, think about what you want to accomplish. Figure out how to do it so that you feel good about yourself,” Stern says.

By Janet Byron
Author - Managing Editor, California Agriculture journal