Don't Try to 'Lose Weight' in 2011 & Slim Down Anyway

It's officially New Year's Resolution time, and most of us are promising our skinny jeans a long overdue reunion in 2011. Or, if you're anything like me, you'd be happy squeezing back into the ones you wore before candy corn, pumpkin pie, and Christmas cookies began infiltrating your home two months ago. 

But like many of the most common New Year's resolutions, the vague vow to "lose weight" is one that hardly ever sticks. "Get out of debt" is also an admirable goal, but how many of us succeed at turning these lofty annual resolutions into cold, hard results?

Instead, we kick off the new year with an abundance of leafy salads and bland grilled chicken, only to get bored and return to our old ways come February 1st. You may still want to lose 50 pounds or drop three dress sizes, but this year, consider resolutions that put you on the path to a healthier lifestyle -- and even help you shed pesky holiday weight -- without the compulsive need to hop on the scale every six minutes.


1.) Build a Bigger Bicep. Instead of worrying so much about the pounds you're taking off your body, consider trying to put a few back on: in muscle mass. Seeing how great your arms are starting to look in tank tops -- and your newfound ability to open the pickle jar or lug groceries up the stairs -- will be motivation enough to continue hitting the gym and maintain your new svelte physique. The stronger you are on the outside, the more empowered you'll feel on the inside.

2.) Try Something New. You can resolve to log X number of minutes on the treadmill every day, or you could finally try Zumba ... or kickboxing ... or yoga ... or spinning. Which sounds more fun? Whether it's dusting off those old roller blades or hosting dance parties in the basement with your kids, there are a million effective ways to burn calories (heck, even gardening counts). Why not let 2011 be the year you discover your latest fitness obsession -- and make exercise fun again?

3.) Kiss the Cook. Vowing to spend more time in the kitchen sounds absolutely dreadful, right? Wrong. Make this the year you invest in a few healthy cookbooks -- or a cooking class -- and get some delicious good-for-you recipes and techniques under your belt. Not only will you be taking in far fewer calories than you would at a restaurant (or, shudder to think, the McDonald's drive-thru), but you'll actually take the time to sit and enjoy your culinary creations. Which leads me to my next point ...

4.) More Quality Time. If your family's evening routine is jam packed with after-school activities, consider dropping a few commitments (and putting that DVR to good use) to carve out more time to sit down for dinner together. Suddenly the temptation to toss a bucket of KFC on the table has disappeared (right?), and the lively conversation will keep you from going back for seconds. Maintaining close bonds with family and friends keeps us saner, more satisfied, and ultimately healthier -- which is all the more reason for a girls' night out every now and then, and more frequent nights in (bed) with your partner. The same rule applies to quality time for yourself: allot at least 20 minutes per day to take a bubble bath, read a book, go for a walk, or do something else that's just for you.

5.) Hit the Hay. Did you know people who sleep fewer than seven hours per night are statistically more likely to be obese? Getting enough shut eye is essential for you to function at your best on the job, in the gym, and with your kids. As your new 2011 bedtime approaches, power down the computers and televisions -- ask your husband to hide your CrackBerry if you must -- and go get some sleep already!

What are some of your healthy living resolutions for 2011?


Image via Flickr/Alan Cleaver

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