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General Health

New Years Health Resolutions can be Dangerous!

How are your New Year's Resolutions going?

If you are like many, you will have at least one based on your desire for a 'New You'... Slimmer, healthier, happier... Dieting and fitness are in fact the top 2 and 3 New Year's resolutions.


Yet for most, by February, those good intentions seem history!

Maybe you have lost a little flab. "Great, I’ll keep this up", you think. Or maybe the scale has not budged at all and in desperation you consider: "Mmmm, perhaps I should stop eating and do a total fast for a week?"

Please think again. See it's like this...

  1. With temporary dieting, especially crash dieting, any pounds lost are likely to represent more muscle and water than fat loss. And they tend to creep back very quickly.
  2. You don't want to lose any of your muscle because muscle tissue burns calories, but fat does NOT. 
  3. When you restrict calories by eating less or eliminating whole food groups from your diet, you will deplete yourself of essential nutrients critical to your health. Your body also goes into a starvation mode to preserve your fat stores. As a result, your metabolism slows to keep you sustained on less food. This slower metabolic rate means that when you stop dieting and eat your "old way" again, your body will burn even fewer calories than it did before. Any weight that was lost gets packed back on, plus a few more pounds.
  4. Evidence also suggests that dieting, especially withdrawal from a high fat diet increases levels of the stress hormone corticosterone.  Even more significant is the altered DNA changes in the genes that control appetite and stress.

So repeated dieting, especially crash dieting slows your metabolism, increases stress levels, makes successful weight loss more difficult and conditions the brain to become more susceptible to binge eating of high fat foods.

If you give up so much when you diet, you may be hungry and think about food all the time. After you stop dieting, you tend to overeat to make up for what you missed.

How Can You Achieve Your New Year's Health Resolutions?

So how can you enjoy the benefits of dieting and avoid the disadvantages?

Perhaps the most critical step is NOT to go on a diet, especially a crash diet. At best, the positive results are temporary, and at worst, dangerous as indicated above.

Rather,  lasting effective health changes result from a balanced lifestyle of healthy eating, regular exercise and emotional wellbeing.

To lead you towards this balanced lifestyle, don’t make Resolutions! Make SMART goals!

Healthy SMART Goals

One of the most tried and true methods for goal achievement is the SMART goals formula which I have adapted as follows:

1. Specific. Set goals with clarity. Your mind does not respond well to vague generalities. If you say your goal is to lose weight and then you lose one pound, then you've reached your goal. Is that what you really wanted? Get clear. Be precise. Be specific. Address for example:

  • What: What do I want to accomplish? Again, be specific here: "… want to lose 5 lbs … "
  • When: Establish a time frame. "… in two months …"
  • Which: Identify requirements and constraints. Which way are you going to do this? “… by eating right and exercising …”
  • Where: Identify a location. The more details you fill in to form a complete picture, the more likely you will be to execute the plan. "… in the gym …"
  • Why: Give specific reasons, purposes or benefits of accomplishing the goal. "… so I can be healthy, fit and energetic."

So my goal is: "I … want to lose 5 lbs … in two months … by eating right and exercising … in the gym … so I can be healthy, fit and energetic."

Seems specific enough!

2. Measurable. Work with your medical, nutritional and fitness advisers to set goals that can be quantified in measurable units  such as:

  • medical health goals targeted at the appropriate levels for blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, hormones,  reduction of medications...etc
  • pounds, body fat percentage, lean body mass, clothing sizes.
  • the right meal portion size and composition for your body needs. These are important to overall balanced health, and in preventing our tendency to eat more than necessary.
  • performance goals can include strength (lbs or kilos lifted) and repetitions completed.

Remember too that all calories are not created equal! Many believe that limiting your calorie intake to, say, 1,500 calories a day would make you lose weight.

Not necessarily...

1,500 calories of fries, candy and soda are not the same as 1,500 calories of lean chicken and vegetables.

Your body will not get its required nutrients from the fries, candy and soda, so it would go into starvation mode like I mentioned above. Plus, it would be nearly impossible to stay under 1,500 calories because you'd be ravenously hungry all the time. The result? Binge eating.

To reduce the likelihood of severe nutrient deficiencies, please take a robust nutritional supplement such as our Total Balance. This contains the key components for good general health and addresses all five major causes of aging.

3. Accountable. Set goals you can be held accountable to. First be accountable to yourself by using a daily progress chart and journal. Then double your motivation with external accountability and show your results and journals to someone else who will hold you to your commitments.

4. Realistic. Set goals that are attainable and maintainable. If you lose two pounds of fat per week, you are doing awesome. 30 pounds in 30 days sounds great in the advertisements, but it is not typical. As indicated above, rapid weight loss is likely to consist of muscle and water, not  fat, and is nearly impossible, if not dangerous, to maintain.

5. Timely. Set short and long term goals with realistic deadlines. Time limits are highly motivating. With no time limit, there is no urgency for completion. It’s best to first establish what you want to achieve long term. How do you want to look, feel etc? Then work back from there and design your short term goals to achieve the ‘Big picture’. You can set goals for daily workouts and nutrition, weekly weight and body composition. Ideally plan your meals in advance so there are no last minute binges.

Now we add some motivational OOOmpf for this year by making your goals even SMART-ER!

6. Emotional. Goals give you a direction, but strong emotions are the propulsion system that drives you in that direction. Develop a burning desire by focusing on the emotional reasons why you want to achieve your goal. Connect your goals to your values. What's most important to you about reaching your goal? If you reach 9% body fat, reduce or even eliminate your sugar cravings, or whatever is your target, what will that do for you? What will your life look like then? How will it make you FEEL?

7. Reviewed often. Resolutions fail because they are casually set once at the beginning of the year and easily forgotten. Stay laser- focused by writing and reading your goals every day. Repetition is one of the keys to re-programming your mental computer for success.

Use the goal card technique. Write your single most important body or fitness goal on a small card, then carry it with you everywhere you go, reading it several times a day.


Finally, remember that the New Year should not be seen as an opportunity to completely reinvent yourself!

Rather, it is an opportunity to set realistic goals and devote yourself completely to them 365 days a year. Sure, those goals may change throughout the 365 days of each year depending on what life has in store for you, but nonetheless you can work towards them every DAY, not once a year.

SMART goals give you direction, focus, motivation and balance. They are easier to achieve because they become a lifestyle choice and a personal definition of who you are.

They lead to our Chairman's and Xtend Life's key aim: Optimum Health...

May 2011 be your Breakthrough year for Optimum Health!

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