Fun Stuff About New Year’s Resolutions

One might think that since my professional life orbits in the galaxy of helping people change their habits for good that I might be a fan of New Year’s Resolutions.

Alien monster making resolutions

One might think that. However, one would be wrong.

Don’t misunderstand; I believe that any time one wants to make a change for the better it’s perfect. Should the passing of another year be the inspiration for that alteration, I’m all for it. However, the swing side of this first-of-the-year obsession is that each January, everyone and their brother is mouthing, “This year, I promise to…” – yet, they don’t. Blah, blah, blah. Moreover, the whole “New Year’s resolution thing” provides cover for the whole “over indulgence thing” that runs from each October through December. After all, one can fall back on the rationale; “I’ll get back in control next year. Give me another serving please; don’t be shy with the gravy.”

Anyway, I’m riding a little high on my horse. I apologize. Bottom line is that the best time to make a resolution is when you’re actually committed to doing it, whether that is January 1, March 22, or October 5. As the ad says, “just do it.”

Yet, as long as I’ve taken us this far down the road, let’s drive on and see what there is. [Read more…]

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Why are We in Such a Hurry to Lose Weight? (Part 2)

upset-woman-on-scaleLast week in this space, I posited the theory that, with almost seven out of ten people overweight (including over 30 percent obese), the reason most people don’t stick with their diets long enough to reach goal weight is because they give up when the pounds don’t drop “fast enough.” Logically, that makes no sense. After all, a slow weight loss is still preferable to no weight loss, which is the inevitable result when one throws in the towel altogether.

Of course, the motive for quitting isn’t rational; it’s one of two emotional reasons. The first reason we are so desperate to speed diet is that we fear motivation will vanish before we reach our goal, and we’ll end up spent, frustrated, and still fat. That is born of the false belief that motivation leads behaviors. Last week, I explained how motivation follows behavior and therefore we can motivate ourselves whenever we desire by engaging in behaviors. Due to limited space, I couldn’t address the second reason we quit, which I’ll do today.

That second reason we are in such a hurry to lose weight — as opposed to in a thought-out, healthy, and sustainable manner —

is complicated, but in part due to the fact that “fat shaming” is still accepted, even when so many other tactless slurs are now considered loutish and vulgar. The humiliation and guilt of being overweight casts its sufferers as lesser and out of control. The overweight are recipients of ignorant, countless wagging fingers — in person and throughout the media — proclaiming boorishly that if they possessed better willpower and a stronger moral character, they’d be thin. Condescending, hurtful, and hateful messages are hurled without end.

The unfairness of how society treats its citizens of size however is not the issue.

[Read more…]

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Why are We in Such a Hurry to Lose Weight? (Part 1)

Jaw droppedI remain gobsmacked by a statistic I recently learned.

By this time of the year, north of 80 percent of people who — at the beginning of the year — said, “This time I mean it! This is the year I’m going to lose those extra pounds,” have given up. Done. Over. Wiped their hands and walked away.

The Centers for Disease Control says that, as of 2012, 69 percent of our population is overweight or obese, with almost half of those folks classified as “obese.” Those extra pounds underwrite a multitude of health conditions, both physical and emotional; and we all know about them. Therefore, one might think that the urgency to shed an expanded waistline could be enough incentive to stick with a program longer than six weeks.

One might think that. One would also be wrong.

The number one reason people quit their program is that they don’t feel they’re losing quickly enough. Granted, if they could slow down racing to the refrigerator long enough to realize that a slow weight loss is faster than a no weight loss, they might stick with it a tad longer. Yet, in all fairness, it’s difficult to remain cold sober logical about your progress when the scale won’t budge. “Get-thin-quickly” scam artists are partially to blame for the false expectations that drive the frustration, but they are actually symptoms of a deeper problem fostering the unrealistic drive to drop weight faster than a brick can fall from a six-foot wall.

So, why are we in such a hurry?

There are two factors at play.

[Read more…]

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A List: Top 5 Ways to Fail at Everything

I am fascinated by lists.

man-looking-at-list

In college, my “go to” book was “The Book of Lists,” which was, um, well — basically a list of lists.

In today’s digital age, most are on-line. One site I found had the most popular “bucket list” ideas. Some of the trendiest objectives included visiting virtually every locale, jumping into a pool fully clothed, and — I kid you not — covering someone’s car in post-it notes. You scamp, you!

Techcrunch posts the most common Google searches. It contained “Ice Bucket Challenge”, “Ebola,” and “Flappy Bird” (a game). Sadly, the loss of “Robin Williams” generated the most searches.

Finally, Listverse, whose raison d’être is to make lists, presented its most popular of all time. Claiming spots in that prestigious ranking are “Top 15 Amazing Coincidences,” “Top 10 Amazing Facts About Dreams,” and the most popular list ever: “10 Fascinating Last Pictures Taken.”

Different times of year spawn season-appropriate lists. January might bring forth “Ten Tips to Getting Organized in the New Year.” In April, we’re informed of “Most Common Forgotten Tax Deductions.” June could give rise to “Top Wedding Ideas of Successful Brides.” (Of course, I don’t know what an “unsuccessful bride” would be.)

I want my own world-famous list. So, I thought of something no one else has done, which I now unveil: (insert fanfare please)

“Five Things You Can Do to Make Sure You Never Achieve Anything.”

In reverse order (because that makes it more exciting I guess):

[Read more…]

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Dieter beware; it’s the Season

I was prompted to write this because I heard an advertisement proclaiming easy weight loss by simply putting drops on one’s tongue.

Snake-Oil-Diet

This always irks me because I hate it that so many people lie about weight loss; taking advantage of the desperate (and unthinking). The only drops one can put in one’s mouth to cause rapid weight loss would be super glue (and I’m not saying to do that of course). Yet, ‘tis the silly season; that yearly ritual where anyone with a megaphone can make false claims about how one can lose weight overnight, without adjusting any behaviors.

Why do so many buy into this time and time again?

Well, let’s start with some facts: According to surveys, the top New Year’s resolutions are: Number One, “spend more time with family and friends;” and number two is “get fit.” “Losing weight” rounds out the top three.

So, it’s obvious that it’s important to many people.

Paradoxically 80 percent of resolutions find their way into the trash heap by January 20, and 92 percent collapse before year’s end. Bottom line? Only eight percent of resolutions survive the year. Why the low success rate? The reality is that so many people are so desperate to shed that weight — and to do it quickly — that they put their brains into neutral, falling for schemes that they’d never accept if they slowed down long enough to think.

Putting on my consumer advocate hat, I therefore did some research to find out what to avoid, should you wish to be one of the successful eight percent instead of the sad 92. Webmd.com listed several diet types to avoid if you wish to successfully lose weight. [Read more…]

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