Will you make it past February 18?

By Claudia Drum, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, U.S. Army Public Health CommandFebruary 3, 2015

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It's that time of year again when weight loss tops the resolution list of many Americans. Weight-loss commercials have begun flooding the airways; health clubs are promoting discounts and new books and phone apps are hitting the marketplace. Nearly half of all Americans make New Year's resolutions, and nearly 40 percent of these resolutions are related to weight loss. In the end, however, the only thing that drops is the resolution itself.

According to a recent study by Gold's Gym, Feb. 18 marks the day when most people abandon their New Year's resolution to lose weight and get more fit. This is the date when gym member check-ins take a nose dive. How can you keep your weight loss efforts from fizzing out? Follow the steps below to turn your New Year's resolution into a lifestyle resolution.

1. Be specific: Be precise about what, when and how you plan to lose weight. For example, instead of telling yourself, "I'm going to exercise more," change it to, "I'm going to take a 45-minute walk during lunch."

2. Torch more calories during the day: Find and seize all opportunities to keep your metabolism stoked during the day. For example, take the stairs whenever possible, park your car farther away from entrances and get up 30 minutes earlier to fit in your exercise before other commitments take over.

3. Use smaller bowls, plates, serving spoons and cups: Trick yourself into eating smaller portions by downsizing your dishes and serving spoons. According to a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity, the average adult eats 92 percent of what is on his plate. Just by reducing the amount you serve yourself, you will take in fewer calories and lose weight.

4. Think twice before taking a second helping: Sit down, slow down and savor your food rather than eating while watching TV or standing in front of the fridge. Being more mindful of what, how much and why you eat can help you identify "triggers" that lead to overeating. Put your fork down or take a sip of water between bites to help you slow down. Always pre-portion your snacks to help you control your calories.

5. Bet on yourself and against others: Put up cash to keep your weight down. People who promised to forfeit money if they failed to lose weight, shed 14 more pounds than those who didn't have anything at stake, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Make weight loss fun and keep yourself accountable by signing up for a weight loss challenge where the stakes are high.

6. Sleep to stay strong: When you are sleep deprived, your willpower goes down and the number on the scale goes up. Sleep deprivation disrupts hormones in your body that help you regulate your hunger and fullness, making it easier to gain weight. Aim for seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night to help you lose weight. Getting enough rest will help you feel more energized, stay more active and make better food decisions throughout the day.

7. Reward yourself; but not with food: Stop using exercise as your ticket to overeat! There is no quicker way to negate all of your hard work than to grab an extra large portion or that grande latte just because "you worked out." Instead, use non-food related rewards (schedule a massage, buy new workout attire, take a new fitness class, join a gym, etc.) to celebrate your successes.

For more tips on making lifestyle resolutions, follow the U.S. Army's Performance Triad which focuses on specific ways you can improve your sleep, activity and nutrition habits

Related Links:

Performance Triad

U.S. Army Public Health Command