How are those New Years Resolutions Coming? by Dana Carpender

How are those New Years Resolutions Coming?

Dana Carpender, Managing Editor of

Put up in a place where it’s easy to see

The cryptic admonishment “TTT.”

When you feel how depressingly slowly you climb,

It’s well to remember that Things Take Time.

– Piet Hein

How are those New Year’s Resolutions coming? I’d like to add one to them for you, if you don’t mind: Be patient.

Impatience is the death of most diet and exercise regimens, whether undertaken for New Year, or any other time. All those stupid ads for diets, diet pills, and exercise equipment promise ridiculous results, like “We guarantee you’ll lose two dress or pants sizes in 10 days, or your money back!” Of course, they know that only a teeny fraction of purchasers will A) follow their instructions to the letter, or B) bother to ship the thing back.

How are those New Years Resolutions Coming?

I’m here to tell you that losing one dress or pants size in 10 days is rare, much less losing two. Furthermore – and this is important – whatever you do to lose that dress or pants size is what you have to continue to do for the rest of your life if you want to maintain the loss. There is no finish line.

But these ads put ridiculous ideas in people’s heads, like that they can undo two decade’s worth of neglect in two weeks. And with low carbing, often people really do lose 5-10 pounds in the first week, as they dump all their stored water. Some people expect this rate of weight loss to continue. The vast majority of them are destined for disappointment. I have had a reader write me, wanting to know why a low carb diet wasn’t causing quick weight loss – she was “only” losing two pounds a week. I had to tell her that two pounds a week is quick weight loss – and point out that if she continued to lose at that rate, she’d lose 104 pounds in a year.

Unfortunately, for too many people the discovery that – surprise, surprise! – losing forty or fifty or a hundred pounds might take them six months or a year is so discouraging that they give up. Similarly, when they start working out, and don’t have six-pack abs after a month of going to the gym three times a week, they decide it’s just too much trouble.

Cut it out, folks.

Think of another sort of physical change: straightening teeth. How would you react if you took your child to the orthodontist, and he or she said, “Hey, I can straighten those teeth today!,” and whipped out a hammer. You’d grab that kid and run! You understand, you accept, that teeth only move gradually, and that anything that could move them quickly would be disastrous, not to mention painful. It takes constant, steady pressure over time.

That’s what it takes to change your body shape and size, too.

As a massage therapist, I have seen repeatedly the pain of people who, after years of slacking, decide they’re going to get into shape today. It’s not pretty. They end up aching all over, and often pulling something or causing an old injury to flare up. And they quit.

Likewise, I see what happens to people who decide that if low carb is good, no carb is better, because they’ll lose their weight fast-fast-fast. After two weeks of nothing but fried eggs and bunless burgers, they become hysterically sick of the diet, and that’s the end of that.

So I challenge you to make realistic goals, like a smaller size by somewhere between Groundhog Day and St. Patrick’s Day, two sizes smaller by May Day. Remember the old adage, “Slow and steady wins the race.” It’s true. Learning to eat a varied, interesting, tasty low carb diet will, in the long run, get you much further than eating no carbs at all, not even veggies, for just a couple of weeks. (That said, I have been known to do a couple of only-meat-and-egg days when I bump up a pound or two. This is a useful discipline for me. But it’s not my day-to-day existence.) A reasonable workout goal can become an enjoyable part of your life, while beating yourself up will only discourage you – and cost you considerably money visiting people like me to fix the damage.

Too, it will profit you to pay attention to the other benefits of low carbing: Increased energy, decreased hunger, dramatically improved health. My email tells me that folks who stick with it through plateaus are so happy with simply feeling great – and getting good reports from their doctors – that they don’t consider quitting, even through lengthy plateaus. They don’t want to go back to being tired and hungry all the time.

I am pleased to say, the improvements in health do happen quickly, often more quickly than the weight loss. I’ve had reports of as much as a 600 point drop in triglycerides in two weeks time. Because of the loss of excess water, blood pressure normalizes at a spectacular speed; if you’re on blood pressure medication be aware that you may very well need to get off it. Monitor closely! Generally energy skyrockets by a week after starting, even if you go through the “withdrawal bonk” phase the first week. (I didn’t. I was exploding with energy three days after I started low carbing. But then, I hadn’t been eating really awful processed stuff, or drinking sugary beverages, so maybe my body didn’t have as big an adjustment to make.) These dramatic improvements in health can be very motivating.

Here are some useful resolutions to go along with and enhance your low carb lifestyle:

    Knee Bend Exercise
    Image by happyveganfit from Pixabay
  • DO RESISTANCE EXERCISE. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you’re going to do only one form of exercise, it should be resistance exercise, not cardio. Nothing will net you more improvement in less time than lifting weights. (Or other resistance exercise. I use a Total Gym, and the BowFlex has its fans.) I am a huge fan of Fred Hahn’s Slow Burn, and it will make you stronger in, no joke, 30 minutes once a week. Resistance exercise is also the Fountain of Youth; much of what we consider the ravages of aging is simply the result of progressive muscle loss. Reverse it!
  • Try various forms of physical activity till you find one you actually enjoy. My sister and brother-in-law have been taking swing dancing lessons, and Zumba classes are popular. Maybe geocaching would get you out of the house. Or would you enjoy a yoga class? (My darling sister-in-law is a yoga instructor, and the results are, I assure you, very impressive. If I lived closer, I’d be in her class.) Simply going for a walk is one of my great pleasures, and a favorite way to spend time with That Nice Boy I Married. If one activity isn’t a good fit for you, try another. But keep trying till you find something you actually look forward to.
  • Deliberately seek out support. Read the blogs. Join a message board. Recruit a couple of friends to go low carb with you. But do whatever you have to do to find the support you need and deserve. Support is the number one thing cited by successful low carbers as keeping them on track, and lack of support is the biggest stumbling block of those who quit. If you have a computer you can find support!
  • Try a new recipe at least once a week. Building a repertoire of favorite recipes will help you get over the “This diet is so weird!” phase quickly. Knowing what to make for supper is huge. Obviously, I’d love for you to buy my cookbooks, but there are plenty of low carb recipes available online, too.
  • Vow to never apologize for “eating funny.” Boast, instead. Be proud! You have reason.

Let’s have a great year!

© 2011 by Dana Carpender. Used by permission of the author. What do you think? Please send Dana your comments to Dana Carpender.

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