This time of year, there are adverts for diets everywhere. As much as it is an annual tradition to indulge over Christmas, so it is to start the weight loss and fitness regime in January.
But it probably won't surprise you to hear that the average new year diet lasts only 2 -3 weeks, before we give up!
The most common reasons for quitting are boredom, feeling hungry and the hassle of planning what to eat. So the word 'diet' for many holds really negative connotations. In fact an anagram of 'diet' is 'edit' which sums up how many people feel about trying to lose weight - diets are generally about cutting out the food we like.
Whether we go as far as declaring our new year weight loss plans as 'resolutions' or whether they stay privately in our head as something to tackle in the new year, there are some golden rules you can follow if you want to be successful.
There's a saying 'if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is'. And that is so true of diets too. Take the weight loss figure the diet promises you and then consider amount is probably how much more you will weigh when you’re done! Repeated fad diets are just quick fixes. You lose the weight, then gain it back – and probably some more besides.
Don't try to get back to the size you were in your teens or pre-babies. Our bodies change so how you feel and look is as important as what the scales may be telling you. Also don't expect to drop a stone in a week. If you have sensible expectations - 1-2 lbs weight loss per week - then you won't be setting yourself up for disappointment. Weight goes on slowly, and steadily is how it should come off.
Something to aim for is essential. Although the scales are an important and reliable measure, it's good to have other goals as well, for example clothing or body measurements or body fat stats. Write down what you'll do to mark the moment when you achieve it - your 'outcome'. Your statement might be "When I reach my goal of losing [insert how much weight], I will do this [state the action you will do]".
Trying to lose weight, drink less, exercise more, all at the same time is a recipe for failure. We are all creatures of habit - our lives are just a mass of familiar routines. Habits are extremely powerful, but easily broken. On average you need to repeat an activity 21 times (or 3 weeks) before it starts to take route. So don’t be too hard on yourself. Set yourself up to succeed by choosing one thing at a time to change.
If you are serious about losing weight, make a public declaration. Stating your intent in this way has been shown to increase commitment. So why not join the Nutracheck New Year Challenge? It's a team event, you don't need to share any personal weight information. Just pledge how much you'd like to lose by 21st February in the Nutracheck forum, then weigh-in each week during the 6 week Challenge and post up your result. The team that collectively loses the most weight wins the Challenge.
Nutritionist Emma Brown, MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.