10 Reasons New Year's Resolutions to Lose Weight Set You Up to Fail (PHOTOS)

resolution notepad surrounded by christmas cookies

Last week, you were probably dunking Christmas cookies into hot cocoa while sucking on a candy cane and baking up a batch of cupcakes. But now that it's a new calendar year, it's like someone flipped a switch, and we're supposed to be vowing off of sugar and carbs FOREVER while taking spin classes and swigging green juice. Agh!

If 2015 already has you feeling seriously pressured to get your butt in gear and start dropping pounds STAT, you are not alone. But the start of a new year with all of its resolutions hoopla actually is NOT the most conducive to getting the weight loss results you want.

We spoke experts who spend all year helping their patients and clients slim down, and got the scoop on the 10 ways this season makes starting a weight loss plan even more challenging -- and what you can do to succeed anyway!

Check out their tips below, then tell us: Which of these has been the biggest hurdle for you?


Image via iStock.com/Goldfinch4ever

  • Hormonal Fallout From Holiday Stress


    "Women don't realize how deep the effects of their hormones are on their hunger, their mood, their energy, their sense of will power, and most importantly how your fat cells are being programmed," notes Alisa Vitti, integrative nutritionist, HHC, AADP, founder and CEO of FLOLiving.com and author of Woman Code.

    And the holiday season sets the stage for hormonal imbalance that works against us. "The stress and excess sugar intake you will experience over the holidays are putting your adrenal glands in a compromised position," Vitti explains.

    If you're dragging yourself out of bed in the morning and totally drained after your workout, you probably have adrenal fatigue, notes Vitti. In turn, "you produce less cortisol throughout the day," she says, "And during your workouts, you can produce none at all! In this scenario, your hormones are programming you to be an excellent storer of fat. And any time you workout too hard, too long, you reinforce that messaging."

    The fix: "Try 20-minute sessions of cardio or weight training, and longer sessions of more gentle movement like hatha yoga or walking," recommends Vitti. "Definitely do the right exercise for the phase of the cycle you’re in." 

  • Out-of-Whack Hunger Cues


    Indulging during the holiday season doesn't only affect stress hormones. "It disrupts ghrelin and leptin levels as well," says Vitti. "So your ability to gauge hunger and satiety is off."

    Switching gears to a restrictive detox or cleanse is only going to add fuel to the already stressful fire, so you're better off trying a more gentle program that helps you reset your hormonal balance. "We're women, and we need to eat to our hormonal patterns," explains Vitti. "There are four of them, and it's really amazing to see what happens, not only with weight loss (I personally lost 60 pounds doing this!), but how it also clears up the other symptoms that get in the way of you sticking to your resolutions -- PMS, bloating, fatigue, heavy bleeding, etc."

    For starters though, Vitti suggests "eating a balanced breakfast to help ease your hypothalamus, and prevent it from sending out the stress signals! A combination of protein and complex carbohydrates -- think a veggie egg scramble with sprouted grain toast or steel-cut oats with nuts or seeds -- is usually the best way to do this."

  • Seasonal Blues


    "SAD (seasonal affect disorder) greatly contributes to weight gain and depression during the winter months," explains personal trainer and certified nutritionist Franci Cohen. "If you are one of those people whose bones ache from the cold, and who'd rather stay warm under the covers on a cold winter day, then deciding to start a fitness program in January will most likely prove unsuccessful."

    Surely, it's not a bad idea to try to be more active or eat cleaner during the winter months, but you may see better results if you come out guns blazing in the spring. "Start in April or May when the weather is wonderful!" advises Cohen. "Then, once January comes around again, the new healthier and fitter you will easily stick with your adopted fitness regimen, despite the cold temperatures outside, because it has already been part of you for many months, and you have already seen and felt positive changes in your body."

  • It's the Perfect Storm for Self-Loathing


    Trying to go from 0 to 100 just because it's a new year not only set us up to fail physically, but emotionally and mentally, too. "We start with the most restrictive diet, with all of our enthusiasm for our resolutions," says Vitti. "[But] within a short few days, hormones are forcing you in the opposite direction of your goals. You are binge-eating carbs, you can't make it through your workout, and you are in a foul mood. All of this usually puts an end to our efforts."

    And when that happens, "we internalize feeling like a failure (again!), and we remain in a negative, contentious relationship with our bodies." Of course, none of that is going to help create a sustainable lifestyle change. Better we're kinder to ourselves and ease into new habits versus diving in head first.

  • Crowded Gyms


    In Janaury, gyms bust at the seams with members who would never be there on a random evening in, say, April. Fighting for an available elliptical can thwart your efforts to work out, leaving you feeling more discouraged and irritated than relaxed and energized.

    You might be able to get around this by going at off-peak times, recommends Aaron Michelfelder, MD, family and integrative medicine physician at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Illinois. "Practically every fitness center has rooms for group classes, and they are certainly not in use all day long," he advises. "So go ahead and check the schedule and use when empty."

    He also recommends being open-minded to trying new kinds of fitness routines (like taking a more intimate Pilates class or buying a Groupon for a local spinning studio) or even hiring a trainer to help you navigate the busy gym. "He or she will know what equipment will be available and can easily modify your workout to fit the date and time you have chosen," Dr. Michelfelder notes.

  • You Forget That It's an 'Inside Job'


    The "new year, new you!" mentality often fails to address the root cause of past weight gain. "A lot of people have just not done the mental preparation to be ready for change," explains Dr. Michelfelder.

    In other words, we often want to leave the past behind and adopt a spankin' new strategy before doing the work of figuring out where we may have gone wrong in the past, whether it's failing to get enough physical activity, making poor food choices, or managing stress adequately.

  • Toxin Overload


    The wine and cocktails that flow throughout the holiday season only serve to compound another little problem that makes it harder to lose weight come January. "When your hormones are out of balance, your liver's function is compromised and can't work as efficiently at removing toxins," explains Vitti. "Your body holds them in your fat tissue in order to protect your liver from a toxic load it won’t be able to handle."

    In turn, "those fat tissues become really difficult to shed," she says. "Unless, of course, you do what’s necessary to help out your liver." Vitti recommends "adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to your water in the morning and throughout the day. Also, incorporate a liver-supportive supplement like milk thistle."

  • Going Big Will MAKE You Go Home


    Biting off more than you can chew (figuratively, that is) tends to be a symptom of weight loss resolutions. "Many people pick January 1 to make a drastic and enormous change, when for some people, it might be better to set smaller, more manageable, and more incremental goals week by week," says Dr. Michelfelder.

    He explains that when working with a patient he advises "starting out with small goals and gradually modifying them as needed." Figuring out what those goals should be and how you can achieve them is "where a professional, such as a personal trainer, dietitian, or life coach, can be incredibly helpful."

  • Crash Diets Do More Harm Than Good


    Restrictive fad diets, detoxes, and cleanses seem to go hand-in-hand with weight loss resolutions, but eating too little is exactly what will hinder success in the long-run.

    It's true that when the body doesn't get enough calories, it goes into "starvation mode." The scientific explanation: The basal metabolic rate is lowered to make up for the inadequate calories we're eating, which a.) makes it harder to lose and b.) makes it easier to regain once you go back to eating "normally."

  • The Word 'Resolution' Itself


    Merely getting yourself all worked up that you are setting a New Year's resolution to lose weight can work against you. "Calling something a resolution might lead to significant discouragement if goals are not met," says Dr. Michelfelder. "Therefore, instead of calling something a diet, I prefer to use the phrase lifestyle change. Lifestyle changes can occur gradually over time and are the types of changes that last. It is easy to break a resolution, but as long as you're headed in the right direction there is no such thing as breaking a lifestyle change."

    For instance, you could simply be focused on decreasing portion sizes or standing for at least a few minutes once an hour while working at your desk, and you'll be succeeding, he says.

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