Diet vs. Lifestyle: Tips to consider when planning your New Year’s resolution

Diet vs. Lifestyle: Tips to consider when planning your New Year’s resolution

Ready to ditch your scale and say goodbye to restrictive meal plans?

With the New Year approaching, it’s important to shed light on the most popular resolution, weight loss. Most people immediately think of fad diets and low-calorie meals when it comes to losing weight, instead of a lifestyle change. While both can technically achieve weight loss, it’s good to understand the difference between the two and why a lifestyle change is the better choice for the long run.

What’s the difference exactly? Essentially, a diet refers to a prescribed way of eating that is often very limited in terms of calories and may also banish certain foods or even food groups from your daily intake. These types of plans are meant to be followed for the short term to provoke weight loss but are typically too restrictive to be healthy, or sustainable, for the long term.

A lifestyle change, on the other hand, refers to smaller changes and tweaks that can be made to your diet or habits. Lifestyle changes are typically more realistic to maintain and can be adopted as a way of life to support healthy weight loss and weight management. They also promote incremental progress over rapid results, making them a more sustainable long-term practice.

Which is better? Studies greatly favor lifestyle change over dieting. In fact, recent research has found that diets can do more harm than good, damaging the metabolism, depriving the body of essential nutrition, as well as contributing to an unhealthy relationship with food and self-image.

So how can you make the switch from dieting to making lifestyle changes that support your goals? Experts recommend using the S.M.A.R.T. formula. Here’s how it works:

  • S is for Specific 1

    For example, you could set a goal to drink an 8 oz. glass of water each morning within an hour of waking up or vow to add one serving of leafy greens at lunch every day. Every bit of progress counts, so no goal is too specific.

  • M is for Measurable 2

    Studies show that tracking your habits can be a great motivator, so you might consider logging your workouts or meals to see how far you’ve come, and also check in with how you feel at each milestone.

  • A is for Attainable 3

    A common way many people self-sabotage is by choosing goals that aren’t attainable. If this is you, consider scaling back instead of giving up. If you weren’t able to eat perfectly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week this week, try aiming for 5 days per week or even just three. Remember progress is the goal. Not perfection.

  • R is for Realistic 4

    The truth is that if you set unrealistic expectations for yourself, you’re likely to often be disappointed. Instead, consider setting goals that you know you can reach, and rewarding yourself when you do. You’re also far more likely to keep up with your new healthy habits if you know they’re doable.

  • T is for Time Sensitive 5

    Experts say that instead of focusing on the big picture, setting smaller short-term goals is the way to go. Focus on the month, the week, the day, or even just the meal ahead. Once you meet your goal, you can create the next attainable one and keep on going!