Let me guess, you want to ring in the new year with the same declarations as last new year. Lose weight, eat healthier, save money, spend more time with family, quit smoking, etc. Have you ever thought about how discouraging it is to keep putting the same pressure on yourself year after year and continue to fail with those resolutions year after year? Actually, haven’t you heard this behavioral pattern described as “insane”? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? If you’re shaking your head in acknowledgement, don’t worry, because you are in no way alone. According to University of Scranton research, just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.

Why, then, do a consistent 40% of Americans continue making lofty resolutions? Because “self-improvement or at least the desire for it, is a shared American hobby”. Since we know the practice of setting resolutions isn’t going anywhere fast, let’s set ourselves up for success instead of repeating the cycle of throwing in the towel within 2-3 months of the new year (if we even get that far!).

Huffington Post has created a helpful list of common weight loss resolutions that almost always backfire on hopeful resolution-makers from four of the nation’s top diet experts. If losing weight ranks at the top of your new year’s goals, then be sure to read on so you can see your hard work pay off in 2014!

woman standing behind scale

1. “I want to lose 20 pounds.”
“Dropping 20 pounds is a great long-term goal, but dieters tend to fall off track when they have such a lofty resolution,” says Toby Amidor, a registered dietitian based in New York City.

Instead: Lose one pound per week. “Instead of taking on such a big task, focus on losing one pound a week by setting small diet and exercise goals,” suggests Amidor. “For example, resolve to pick skim dairy over whole and pledge to work out 30 minutes, three times a week. You’ll be surprised how small tweaks can result in major change.”

woman on a diet and doesn't want to eat her salad

2. “I’m going to try the ________ diet.”
Fill in the blank with any fad diet and you’re doomed for failure. A typical diet-of-the-moment requires cutting out one or more major food groups, like fruits, grains or meats. That’s simply unhealthy and can also prove overwhelming, says Amidor.

Instead: Eat lean protein and veggies at every meal. A well-balanced and properly portioned eating plan that includes a variety of produce and lean meats (and the occasional sweet treat!) will always be the ticket to long-term weight loss, Amidor says.

woman chopping vegetables in white kitchen

3. “I’m going to stop eating at restaurants.”
Nixing a night out with friends for the sake of your diet is no way to live, says Amidor. You’ll only wind up frustrated and will be more likely to fall off the wagon.

Instead: Order smarter at restaurants. “Before dining out, have 10 almonds or an apple so you don’t arrive ravenous, and then start with a small salad,” suggests Amidor. In a 2004 study published in the Journal of the American Diet Association, Penn State researchers found that women who started a lunch with a salad consumed up to 12 percent fewer calories than those who skipped the first course. “Choose a light appetizer as your entree and have the bread basket removed,” says Amidor.

woman frustrated with her low calorie diet

4. “I’m going to eat 900 calories a day until I lose the weight.”
Sure, severely restricting your calorie intake will spur weight loss, but you’ll gain it all back as soon as you start eating normally again (not to mention that starving yourself is dangerous). “This is often the attitude of yo-yo dieters, who go from a size four to a 12 and back again, seemingly overnight,” says Amidor.

Instead: Develop a healthy eating plan with an RD. If you’re unsure how to lose weight the healthy way, consider making an appointment with a dietitian. “Many RDs now take insurance, so don’t be afraid to ask if yours is accepted,” says Amidor. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a registered dietitian referral service that allows you to search a database of practitioners across the nation.

fresh ingredients for a juice cleanse

5. “I’m going on a juice cleanse.”
After a holiday binge, a detox may seem like a good idea, “but an all-or-nothing approach to weight loss will ultimately fail,” says Lisa DeFazio, RD, a celebrity nutritionist based in Los Angeles.

Instead: Do a mini-cleanse. Jumpstart your weight loss plan with a two-day, 1,200-calorie juice cleanse instead. “Replace breakfast and lunch with a fresh vegetable juice or a protein shake and eat a balanced dinner of whole grains, vegetables and a lean protein like chicken or fish,” suggests DeFazio.

bowl of leafy greens

6. “I’m going vegetarian.”
Losing weight requires burning more calories than you consume, but eliminating meat from your diet won’t necessarily cut your calorie intake. “Newbie vegetarians sometimes gain weight because they are unaware of the hidden calories in vegetarian go-tos like cheese and pasta,” warns DeFazio.

Instead: Reduce your meat intake. “Lean animal proteins should take up no more than a quarter of your plate at each meal,” says DeFazio. Fill the rest of your dish with whole grains, fruits and vegetables to fuel weight loss. You could also try swapping some of your meat with vegetarian protein sources.

woman at the grocery store getting vegetables


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