Resolutions: Small, steady change to lifestyle is better than dieting, expert says – The Augusta Chronicle


Posted: January 3, 2021 at 9:57 pm

Tom Corwin|Augusta Chronicle

Usually when Lizzie Keen is seeing patients at Doctors Hospital of Augusta, their chronic conditions have already worsened and the registered dietitian is trying to help themget things under control. For those who will be making a New Year's resolution to lose weight and get healthier, however, she thinks small and steady change is better.

Vowing to lose weight in the new year is always a top resolution people make: 65% of men in a survey of those ages 30-65 were making a resolution to lose weight next year, according to the telehealth company Vault Health.

For many it is more of an ongoing resolution.The number of adults age 20 and older who are following a special diet in the U.S. increased from 14.3% in 2007-08 to 17.4% in 2017-18, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Those rates increase with age, with those age 20-39 reporting 13.3% on a special diet compared with 19.3% for those 60 and older, according to a recent report from the center.

The biggest mistake people make, however, is in thinking of it as a diet, Keen said.

"Probably the first mistake people make is saying, 'I am going to go on a diet' vs. 'I am going to make some healthy lifestyle changes to manage my chronic disease,'"she said. "Saying you are on a diet constitutes restriction."

A better word is moderation. Too often people are focused on rapid weight loss when the goal should be no more than two pounds a week, Keen said.

"More than that, it is unhealthy and it can be attributed to fluid loss, which is not good because obviously you want to stay hydrated," she said. "Also the faster you lose weight, the sooner you plateau. Then people might not be seeing results as quickly, get frustrated and go to more drastic measures, which arenot sustainable in the long run."

As a better way to set goals, Keen offers the acronym SMART:Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound or Timely.

"If you can set your goals up that way, it just overall makes it more sustainable," she said. "If you create small goals, they are a lot easier to meet, you are a lot more likely to keep yourself accountable and they are a lot more likely to turn into lifestyle changes versus just a temporary diet. If you make too many changes at once, it can be overwhelming, it can be unmanageable, and difficult to adhere to."

Also, think about other areas that will help promote better health, such as exercise, getting an adequate amount of sleep, stress management and hydration, Keen said. Often when one area is out of balance, it can throw the others off as well, she said.

"If you dont get enough sleep, you tend to overeat," Keen said. "If you dont get enough sleep, you tend to be more stressed. If you are more stressed, you tend not to sleep as well" and then it becomes a vicious cycle.

Also, think about stretching more, she said.

"Alot of of people dont think about that, but that plays into exercise," Keen said. "Just daily stretching can provide you with a lot of benefits."

That could be particularly true this year, she said.

"A lot of people are working from home now, sitting in a chair for a majority of the day, not getting up and walking around as much as they might in a work setting," Keen said. "(Stretching) is a great way to relieve joint pain, get the body moving, get a little bit of exercise into your sedentary workday, and it just makes you feel better all over."

Ultimately,it might be better to start off with one healthy change, stickwith that for a month until it becomes a habit,thenadd a new goal for the next month, she said.

"Think tortoise, not hare," Keen said. "Slow and steady is going to win the race when it comes to lifestyle choices."

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Resolutions: Small, steady change to lifestyle is better than dieting, expert says - The Augusta Chronicle

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