By Dr Joe
I want you to adopt a different approach to your new year weight loss plan resolutions this year.
Hear me out. You are going to love this, I think. Wink, Wink.
And it really doesn’t matter what diet type you have chosen. You can apply these new year’s fat loss tips and principles universally.
You see, I have a perfectionist attitude to life. As good as this looks on the surface, perfectionism can make life just a little bit complicated.
Yes, it is nice to spend that extra time to ensure the task in hand is perfectly executed. After all, it’s going to look all shiny and glossy in the end.
But something I have found out to my cost in life is that; perfection is a moving target. That’s where the complexity comes in.
No, I am not in any way suggesting mediocrity and ineptitude as substitutes for perfection. Instead, I am saying near-perfect may just be good enough.
Certainly near-perfect will do you good…a lot of good with your new year weight loss plan resolutions.
My view is that, this will make you get results that will stick…for a long time.
This will require a change in strategy though.
In the past, I will hazard a guess that you have always wanted to TRY to change your habits when it comes to New Year Resolutions, right?
The thing is, TO TRY, requires a lot of Will Power. Will Power taps into MENTAL energy…a lot of it. And that can be draining.
Mental energy AKA Will Power is not an infinite resource. That is why it becomes so easy to abandon New Year Resolutions in general after a couple of weeks.
Weight loss new year resolutions are no different. Weight loss new year resolutions get abandoned in weeks.
Ask any Gym management personnel. They will tell you the gym membership rush of January fizzles out by mid-February at best.
It’s very easy to slide back to our routine. The reason? Will power gets expended very quickly. It’s not your fault. It’s just human nature.
New Year Weight Loss Plan Resolutions – A New Approach
Instead of TRYING HARDER to Do This and Do That, we are going to adopt a SYSTEM CHANGE.
TRY HARDER won’t last, SYSTEM CHANGE lasts and lasts a long time.
What do I mean by SYSTEM CHANGE?
Okay, here we go.
Will Power #1 – I’m Going To TRY HARDER To Eat Healthier Main Meal This Year
No, we aren’t going to do that. We will adopt a System Change instead.
Having a healthier main meal can take all sorts of forms. It’s easier to do than you think. The idea behind this system change is calorie reduction but that is not to say we will be going hungry.
No, we won’t. Because we are still going to have a plate bursting with food but the main content of the plate will be made of healthier ingredients.
We won’t get into the argument of what constitutes your main meal of the day. It’s your choice. But whatever it is, we will be using this strategy consistently.
What’s the strategy?
It’s about food plating. When plating your food and indeed in the preparation (because you need to have this in mind at the preparatory stage), divide your plate into 3.
Fill half of the plate with veggies. The other half should be taken up by protein and carbs. Simple as it is, this system change works so well and it is effortless.
Veggies are so low-calorie you can eat lots of them without even blinking about how much calories they have.
Gorge on them. You’ve got the Veggie permit.
Will Power #2 – I’m Going To TRY HARDER To Reduce My Food Portions.
No, a System Change will fix this.
This leads on from the last system change. Just simply reducing your food portions is enough to fight the flab.
And I am not contradicting myself. Saying reduce food portion whilst asking you to gorge on vegetables. As alluded earlier on, non-starchy veggies are pretty low-calories, so not a cause for concern.
Also, when you hear this, your mind probably races to calorie counting, right?
No, we are not going to calorie count. I hate it. It’s annoying in the first place. And do you know something? People who calorie count think they are doing it right. No, they aren’t.
They are guessing. Also, remember, all calories aren’t created equal. That’s the main flaw with so-called calorie counting.
Research has proven time and time again that calorie counting is fraught with errors. Lots of errors. Errors on the calories consumed and errors on calories burnt side too. Most successes that have their roots in calorie counting happen mainly by accident rather than precise judgement.
We are going to keep this system change very simple.
Portion sizes is what we shall be using. A simple visual estimation will do. Yes, it isn’t precise, so is calorie counting anyway. I would rather do this than tear my hair out trying to dial in the calories in my food.
Your best instrument has been given to you by nature – your hand.
Men will need between 40 – 60 gm of protein. This equates to 2 palm sizes of your hand.
Women will need 1 palm size and equates to 20 – 30 gm of protein.
Men will need about 2 cupped hands sizes. This will give you about 40 – 60 gm of carbs.
Women will need 1 cupped hand size delivering 20 – 30 gm of carbs.
Men will need 2 thumb-size portions of fats delivering 10 – 20 gm of fats.
Women will need 1 thumb-size amount of fats rendering 5 – 10 gm of fats.
I believe in having as much veggies as possible because they are really low-calorie in output but if you want to be anal about it, then 2 fist-size portions will be just about right on your plate.
If you do that for your meals, you will be fine. However, some people may need to adjust those portion sizes to suit their needs. For instance, if you are very active physically, or you have smaller meals during the day or you are bigger in stature, you may need to up those portions in accordance with your needs.
Adjusting it means:
Men – have an extra 1 cupped hand of carbs and 1 extra thumb-size portion of fat.
Women – have an extra half-cupped hand of carbs and extra half-thumb size of fat.
By the way, by fats I am referring to nuts, seeds, avocados, oils, butter and nut butters like peanut butter, almond butter, cashew nut butter.
This is one of the least complicated ways to construct your plate of food that guarantees calorie cut. You might dismiss it because it looks so simple. Well, simple works. Trust me.
As with everything in life, you have to see how you are getting on with this food portion plan. You can always dial it up and down to suit your target weight. It’s not set in stone. It is a guide…a good guide, at that. You can dial up the carbs but do dial down fats if you are dialling up carbs.
I like this system change because it is way simpler to do than attempting to count calories which will drive you mad.
Will Power #3 – I Will TRY HARDER To Eat Less Takeaways and Restaurant Foods
Erm, yes, but a System Change will get us a better response.
I shall do more home cooking this new year and I will start cooking in advance.
I know times are hectic. We are always in a rush. Looks like 24 hours in a day isn’t enough. We need more like 28 hours to fulfil all the tasks we need to do daily.
With a hectic lifestyle, it becomes increasingly difficult to cook meals. It’s just easier to order food from the takeaway a couple of blocks down the road.
Problem is; takeaway foods and restaurant foods are only optimised for taste. Yes, that’s why they taste so good. They want you to come back again and again. Repeat business is how they make their profits, right?
Foods optimised for taste only, are not generally healthy. They are usually packed with Salt, Sugar and Fats.
Let’s not get into the argument of whether fats are good or bad for you, shall we? That’s a whole new avenue that leads to a blind alley. Point is, uncontrolled fat consumption whether healthy fats or otherwise, will not do your waistline any good. Period.
These can frustrate your weight loss goals.
When you cook your own meals, you know what’s gone into that food. With restaurant foods and takeaway foods, you have absolutely no idea.
No, I don’t want to be a killjoy and say don’t buy takeaway foods at all or don’t go out to your lovely restaurant for a slap-up meal. By all means, do that. But reduce the frequency.
Home-cooking works…when done correctly.
A strategy that works so well is to cook over the weekend and store food in the refrigerator and just re-heat during the week.
That way when you are exhausted from your daily grind, you won’t pick up the phone to order takeaway for that evening. It is understandable when you do that because will power will not be enough to get you into the kitchen when your feet are aching after a hard day’s work.
But it’s very easy to get out your pre-prepared meal, re-heat and voilla, healthy food is ready. Buy another refrigerator if you have to.
Just cook in advance when you don’t really need will power to get you into the kitchen. Eat the food when will power is required and may fail you.
Will Power #4 – I Will TRY HARDER Not To Overeat
Erm, where have I heard that before…
SYSTEM CHANGE For Weight Loss
Everyone is in a hurry today. Everything is rushed. I acknowledge the fact that at work, the luxury of time is just that – a huge luxury. So, this system change may be difficult to implement at work.
But when you are home, it makes sense to adopt this system change because it’s the simplest thing to adopt amongst all the strategies I have mentioned.
What am I on about?
It’s about our speed of eating. Yes, how fast you eat can adversely affect your weight management. It sure does. No joke.
I was talking to one of our younger doctors the other day and he was telling me how patients come in as emergencies with “Food Bolus” when he was rotating through Ear Nose & Throat. Usually a large piece of steak stuck in their oesophagus because they won’t bother to chew their steak before swallowing.
You have to wonder, why on earth is it too much work to chew on your piece of steak before swallowing. Chewing on that steak could have saved those patients a trip to operating theatre.
Perhaps if this lady had chewed her food properly, she would have been saved a 6-year ordeal of being wrongly treated for Crohn’s disease. She unwittingly swallowed a large piece of plastic food wrapper with her food 6 years earlier.
For unexplained reasons, the Heinz plastic food wrapper was stuck in her bowel. She didn’t pass it the other end; if you get my drift and that was the reason she had bowel symptoms all those years. Wrapper surgically removed, “Crohn’s disease” gone forever.
Anyway, that is just a symptom of the world we now live in. Everything is rushed. Food is rushed.
Slow down, folks. Let’s take in a deep breath and slow down the pace.
You will be surprised that when you rush your food, digestion is affected. Not only does fast-paced eating lead to poor digestion, you miss out on the psychological satisfaction that your food is supposed to provide.
Another issue is when you eat too quickly, you feel rushed and the eating episode is over too soon, that you feel the need to eat just a little bit more.
Ultimately rushed eating leads to overeating and of course weight gain.
Eating slowly gives your brain enough time to recognise the “fullness factor”.
And do you know how long it takes for your brain to signal that you may be full?
20 minutes. That’s how long it takes, folks, 20 solid minutes.
How many people take that long to eat? Not a lot. Most people will be done long before that.
The French have an unwritten rule. Never eat whilst standing. That’s customary for the French. Why, because eating whilst on your feet means you are going to rush that meal. You aren’t going to feel relaxed on your feet munching, are you?.
The Japanese have an unwritten rule as well. Eat until you are 80% full. See my write up on why the Japanese tend to have an enviable longevity here. That’s one of their strategies for weight maintenance.
I don’t need to tell you that the Japanese and the French have one of the lowest BMI rates on the planet.
When you dial down the speed of your eating, you will enjoy the food more and your body will have enough time to feel full, feel content, without the need to go for seconds or even thirds. Satiety will kick in at the appropriate time.
The decision to slow down your eating speed is one good reason to have high fibre foods. High fibre foods force you to chew thoroughly before swallowing,
Oh, please do me a favour, just chew thoroughly between bites, will you?
Savour the flavours as though you are a food critic.
Don’t forget to drink a good amount of water. Water helps ease digestion and staves off constipation too.
Another tip is to put your cutleries down inbetween mouthfuls. This will encourage you to slow down the pace as you will chew just a little bit more. Don’t forget that food digestion actually begins in the mouth, through enzymes in your saliva. So, in effect, you are aiding good digestion the longer the food spends in your mouth before swallowing.
Eat until you feel ‘Satisfied’ NOT ‘Stuffed’. There is a difference!
It’s all about the mindfulness!
This is easy to do. But if you feel you are going to struggle because of old habits of rushed eating, then use a timer.
Your clock or watch, your phone alarm, anything that can serve as a timer will come in handy for you.
Set your timer for about 40 – 45 minutes and tell yourself you are going to pace yourself to not finish your dinner until that timer beeps. That’s a system change that will help your new year weight loss resolution stick.
SYSTEM CHANGE No 2 for Overeating
What if you have difficulty with stuffing yourself?
Well, this next system change will do you fine.
It’s intermittent fasting. Yes, I agree, this is not to everyone’s taste. Not everyone fancies the ‘fasting’ idea.
But you don’t have to do intermittent fasting all the time.
Essentially when you overeat and your weight management problems pile up, just make it a policy to do intermittent fasting for 4 days in one calendar month. You don’t have to do more than that. Just 4 days of fasting in a month. 1 day of fasting per week until you hit your weight target. That’s all.
Fasting is safe. If it wasn’t, Muslims and some Christians won’t be doing it, year after year. Check out Brad Pillon’s How to Avoid Complicated Diet Rules and Prevent Rebound Weight GAIN. He simplifies the whole system change right there.
Will Power #5 – I Will TRY HARDER Visiting The Gym This Year
Okay, nice try…
One inevitable event around every new year is that it is smack bang in the middle of winter. It is cold. It is frosty and if you live in my neck of the woods, it gets rainy and windy as well.
Now, is that a recipe for waking up at 6am, and start heading for the gym to get fit? I don’t think so. Your will power may last you up to 1st of February and you will run out steam. Very quickly. Even the evenings are chilly.
No wonder the gyms are empty by mid-February.
You can go with a strategy of small increments when you want to ‘Move More’ in the new year.
You don’t have to go all gung ho.
Start with walking. Just walk a little bit more. Walk more at work, walk more at home, walk more on weekends.
If your office is in a high-rise building, use the stairs all the time.
You should read my article on Non-Exercise ACtivity Thermogenesis for more tips on this.
If you are friendly with your neighbour, hand them your car keys after work. That way you are forced to walk to everywhere except going to work unless of course you have a long-distance journey to undertake. Use your judgement.
You should be looking to walk any distance that is less than 5 miles. Give it a good go. You will discover you may just enjoy it.
As for the Gym, well you don’t have to go. Save yourself that subscription. There are exercise routines you can undertake at home that are time-efficient. No need spending endless hours in the gym busting gut and hurting yourself.
The resource below will tell you more about how to do that.
To round up, TRYING HARDER, is a recipe for failure. It’s a recipe that will make you abandon your new year weight loss plan resolution in weeks. The result – You feel G-U-I-L-T-Y.
Adopting the system change is one way to go about it. I’m not suggesting it is the only way. It’s one way. Adopt one or two system change strategy and you may just surprise yourself, this new year.
Remember, we aren’t striving for Perfection. We just want it to be Near-Perfect.
New Year Weight Loss Tips
Here’s a summary of the New Year Weight Loss Tips offered on this page. Just pick a few of the these tips and you can have a permanent weight management plan going forward.
- Never adopt a perfectionist attitude.
- Forget Will Power. It’s a monumental waste of mental energy and runs out pretty quickly anyway.
- Ditch TRY HARDER to do this and do that.
- Adopt a SYSTEM CHANGE instead. Works way better.
- Overhaul your usual Food Plating distribution plan.
- Dump Calorie Counting. It’s old and tired.
- Your hand is your best tool when it comes to food portions. Use it as instructed above.
- Change your eating speed.
- Home Cooking works but facilitate it by cooking in advance.
- Incorporate Intermittent Fasting for just 4 days a month.
- Include Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis in your overall plan
Suggested further reading
How NOT To Waste Your Time In Exercise Wonderland
No-Hype Minimalist Approach To Exercise