FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
I'm Farai Chideya, and this is NEWS & NOTES.
Whew! We just made it through another holiday season, and I'm not sure yet whether the news from my waistline is happy or sad. But like a lot of folks, health and fitness goals top my New Year's resolution list. Are they actually attainable, or am I just setting myself up for failure?
This year I resolve to cut the cheese. Seriously, it's an addiction for me. Cheese once a week, no more, and I'm not talking anything as rich as chiles rellenos either. I'm talking some simple, restrained, portion control. That is my resolution.
Now to help me make it stick, NEWS & NOTES nutritionist Rovenia Brock joins me. Welcome, Dr. Ro.
ROVENIA BROCK: Happy New Year.
CHIDEYA: Happy New Year. A study published in the “Journal of Clinical Psychology” reports that those who pledged to make behavior changes by means of a resolution were 10 times more likely to succeed. What do we think of that?
BROCK: We think it's a very individual thing. I mean, ideally, that makes sense because now you've put it out there that you're making a commitment to make a behavioral change. And I think a lot of times people who will give the commitment out loud as opposed to holding it such that now they have to be accountable to those who've been privy to it. You know, I think it helps. I, personally, don't make New Year's resolutions. I try resolve to do something to be better all throughout the year.
CHIDEYA: So I have, at different points, had weight loss goals. I've had, you know, spiritual goals. I've had financial goals. All that manifest in the form of resolutions. But what are actually some resolutions that, you know, can be phrased in a way that's most helpful?
BROCK: You know, everybody's going to make a resolution that I'm going to lose weight. But I think that is so broad. It's much more helpful, and I think useful, to make a resolution, if in fact weight loss is your goal, to make it more specific so that it becomes measurable and to make it a goal that you can really work towards. And you want to make it one that you're not going to just lose weight. You want to drop the next 10 or 20 or 40 pounds for a specific time period.
You just want to make sure that the weight loss is all in the direction of changing your lifestyle, I think, overall. So if you have a 10- or 20-pound weight loss goal, you want to make it realistic. Make the goal measurable. Give yourself time to achieve it. Not drop 10 pounds in 20 days, but rather lose the weight over time with consistency.
CHIDEYA: Should they keep a food journal?
BROCK: I think keeping a food journal is an excellent idea because it helps you to become accountable to yourself. And the other thing is you learn things about yourself that you may not have known, like people are rarely aware of how many calories they're actually consuming. But this way, by keeping the journal, you can see it on paper.
CHIDEYA: Now what about basically, like, the January-1st syndrome, which is like, you know, December 15th through January 1st you've been having eggnog spiked with rum or cheese something - anything with cheese - and, you know, little crispy things on platters. And then, all of a sudden, on the first you go sign up for gym membership. You start eating lettuce wrapped in more lettuce and you work out three hours a day.
BROCK: And that's what I mean by making your goals realistic. You want to make your goals such that they fit your lifestyle, not this one that you've dreamt up in your head and thought you should have. So if you were not going to the gym five days a week before the holiday, it is unlikely that you're going to begin to do that right from the start, right out of the gate. So I would say start small.
Say that you're going to work out two days a week, and then grow it from there. Let's not move from eating mounds of food of high fat in all proportions to eating lettuce leaves. It's just unrealistic. And that's the reason why most people falter on a New Year's resolution by the end of the month.
CHIDEYA: So what would be some healthful diet resolutions?
BROCK: Well, to say that I'm going to eat now more colorful vegetables and fruit than I did last year, maybe that I'm going to increase my protein, so I'll resolve to have a little protein with every meal. Maybe I'll resolve to eat more frequently than I did before as opposed to saving up for one meal at the end of the day when I was more likely to overeat.
CHIDEYA: Do women generally make more promises about diet and fitness than men do?
BROCK: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Because weight is I think much more important to women. But the problem is making those unrealistic resolutions, those things that you really can't live up to. And they're so unrealistic when you compare them to what you were doing before you set out to make the change, and they don't really fit in your lifestyle. So you have to make resolutions that you're going to be able to live up to, rather than set yourself up for failure.
CHIDEYA: So, basically, if you had to give just three recommendations for how to achieve some fitness goals, New Year's resolutions, what would they be, just your top three?
BROCK: I think my top three. At first, make your goals realistic. Two, make them attainable. And three, make them fit into the life that you have now such that you don't have to change so drastically that you set yourself up for failure.
CHIDEYA: Well, Dr. Ro, as always, great advice.
BROCK: Thank you. It's always a pleasure.
CHIDEYA: Rovenia Brock is a regular contributor to NEWS & NOTES, and author of “Dr. Ro's Ten Secrets to Livin' Healthy.”