JANUARY is famous for New Year’s resolutions. There’s something so motivating about starting a new year with a fresh set of goals.
This year that feeling is likely to be stronger than ever, as we emerge from the worst of the pandemic.
Spending so much time indoors, often coupled with more indulgent food choices and disrupted routines, saw many healthy habits fall by the wayside during the pandemic.
So if you’re ready to make 2022 the year that you take control, lose weight, get fitter and gain confidence, read on.
Here are seven secrets of success, backed by the latest research into weight loss and behaviour change, from local Slimming World consultants in Tameside.
1 Don’t go hungry
To lose weight you have to eat less, right? Well, no! What you’re eating is much more important than how much. Swapping high calorie, unsatisfying foods for foods that are lower in calories and more bulky, so they fill you up for longer, is key to losing weight in a way that’s easy to live with.
Research shows that by basing your diet on low energy dense foods, like fruit and veg, and foods that are most filling, like lean meat, fish, eggs, pasta and potatoes, you can actually eat a larger amount and feel more satisfied while losing weight.
“We might think we need to be overly strict when we’re losing weight – counting and measuring all our food and reducing portion sizes – but this type of approach ultimately leaves us feeling more hungry and deprived,” says Dr Jacquie Lavin, Slimming World’s Head of Research.
Some quick and easy changes include using less fat when you cook, so you boil or dry fry instead of frying in oil, swapping full fat dairy products for low fat or fat free, ditching sugary drinks in favour of low calorie drinks and adding more fruit and veg to your daily meals.
2 It’s OK to walk before you run!
If it’s your goal to get fitter, remember you don’t have to become a professional athlete – just making a commitment to moving more all adds up. Many people make the mistake of joining a gym, overdoing it in week one and giving up, thinking ‘exercise isn’t for me’.
Finding an enjoyable, achievable, and sustainable way of building new active habits into your routine is key – anything that gets you moving more counts, from heavy gardening or vigorous housework to brisk walking, dancing, cycling, or playing frisbee in the park.
In our local groups we encourage each other to get more active, and we’ve got a new set of 50 online videos for members so they can easily get started at home.
Leeanne Frost says walking is now part of her daily routine and you’ll often find her with a rucksack filled with a tasty picnic for the family when they’re off on an adventure, no matter what the weather!
3 Be kind to yourself
We all start January with great intentions, but it’s all too easy to go off track. It’s what you do next that matters most – and the most important thing is not to beat yourself up about it.
A Slimming World survey of 1,700 slimmers showed when they had a slip up, being self-critical was more likely to lead to comfort eating and giving up completely, whereas when they were kinder to themselves (imagine how you’d talk to a friend who’s had a setback), they more quickly got back to healthy eating, lost weight and kept it off.Louise Whitehead says this is the most important thing she’s learnt and its really changed her way of thinking to aid her on her journey to her target weight.
4 Set a goal
It’s hard to achieve a goal if you don’t set it out clearly in the first place. And when you’re thinking about your dream weight, don’t be afraid to be ambitious.
Research from Slimming World shows slimmers who set ambitious targets lose twice as much weight as those who try to be ‘realistic’.
Jill Ratcliffe says: “I set gradual targets so my goals felt achievable and not a mountain I couldn’t climb. Getting to each goal was what drove me on.”
5 Don’t opt for a quick fix
Many people find losing weight far easier than keeping it off long-term. To avoid becoming trapped in a yo-yo diet cycle, it’s important to approach weight loss as a permanent change to your lifestyle and focus on developing new healthy habits that are sustainable for life, as well as getting support to make those changes.
Dr Jacquie Lavin, Slimming World’s Head of Research, says: “A group support approach is tried and tested – research shows the more groups that members attend, the more successful they are.
“Based on their weight loss over a year, the top 10,000 slimmers who attended their weekly group regularly lost 30 per cent of their body weight – around 5st each.
“In our groups, members are equipped with all the tools they need to stay slim for life so they can be confident that the changes they’re making are sustainable forever.”
Mother and daughter Debbie and Amy Arden, who have lost eight-and-a-half stone between them. says food optimising becomes a new way of life and they love their Slimming World family.
6 Strike a balance
An all-or-nothing approach is rarely effective when it comes to weight loss. Restricting yourself might work in the short-term, but pretty soon you’ll be fed up, hungry and giving up completely.
A little bit of what you fancy is key! That might be a Saturday night glass of wine or a bit of chocolate in the evenings. Having a flexible approach and a balanced mindset is much more likely to deliver long-term success.
Linda Randle always believed she had a healthy lifestyle, and didn’t think Slimming World would work for her, until she joined the Denton group and lost five stone. Now she says Slimming World has educated her to a healthy lifestyle and the group gives support and motivation.
7 You don’t have to go it alone
Studies show embarking on your weight loss journey alongside other slimmers brings more success than going it alone – sharing the ups and down, having cheerleaders who are on your side, and sharing advice and tips.
And recent research revealed people who are supported to lose weight in a group increase their mental toughness – developing more control, embracing challenges and growing in confidence more than those who choose to lose weight on their own.
Dr Jacquie Lavin says: “Our members become part of a community, which helps them to realise they are not alone in the challenges they face.
“That’s combined with our personalised approach – called IMAGE Therapy – which helps every member discover more about themselves as a slimmer, identify their own pitfalls and danger zones, and create practical plans to overcome them.”
Jacky Stevens says: “Going to group regularly is so helpful, the exchange of ideas, banter and the feeling of belonging, everyone has the same goal, it’s good to stay for the meeting there’s always something new to pick up (a recipe or a new product).”
• To find out more about Slimming World and how to join, visit slimmingworld.co.uk or call 0344 897 8000 or receive a warm welcome into one of our Tameside groups.