Posted: Monday, October 18, 2021

Seasonal Changes Can Affect Your Weight Loss Goals

After a long, hot summer, we’re thankfully now well into fall. Because the weather is nicer than it was a few months ago, it’s easier to be outside, and feels more natural than in the heat and humidity of July and August. This means more opportunities for hiking, biking, walking or running, all of which, of course, involve exercise. As we know, more exercise is good for us in a wide variety of ways, not the least of which being that it helps us burn calories and lose weight. But fall also brings with it some pitfalls for those trying to lose weight. For example, pumpkin spice treats and Halloween candy can wreak havoc on your diet if you aren’t careful. To avoid these dangers, it’s important to tailor your weight loss goals around the change in seasons.

Blount Memorial registered dietitian Heather Pierce says the new season is a good time to reassess your weight loss goals and factor seasonal plusses and minuses into your plan. “With any weight loss goal, you want to set yourself up for success,” she said. “When you’re getting started, remember to be specific about not only your goal, but how you will achieve it. For instance, don’t just tell yourself to ‘be more active.’ That’s just too vague. Instead, set up a plan to walk a few minutes a few times each day, maybe after meals, then commit to following through. Also, go easy on yourself. Remember to be positive, avoiding thoughts like ‘I will stop eating everything in sight,’ and replacing them with ‘I will pack a healthy snack for myself to have at work that is around 200 calories,’” she explained. “It’s a simple way of reframing your mindset to a more positive state of mind right from the start of your plan,” she added.

Pierce says there are other steps to take, as well. “You want to take into account the things you can control. For instance, if your household consumes lots of cookies, don’t ask your family to stop eating them. Take the initiative, yourself, to stop buying them,” Pierce said. “This removes the temptation for everyone. Next, when you set a goal, don’t just say ‘I want to lose 20 pounds.’ Give yourself a time limit goal to go with it. Instead, say ‘I want to lose 20 pounds by 2022,’ or any date that suits you and your goals. Definitely avoid setting an unrealistic date, though. You don’t want to box yourself in with something that is unachievable, such as ‘I will lose 20 pounds in two weeks.’ This sets you up for failure and discouragement, which can sink your entire plan,” she explained. “Consider that losing an average of one or two pounds per week is a realistic goal for most people. Some weeks you may lose more, some you may lose less, but if you focus on exercises that start small and progressively get more intense, as well as eating habits that you actually can live with, you’ll be better off in the long run,” she said.

But, Pierce says, you have to reward yourself sometimes, too – just don’t do it with food. “When we eat a piece of candy or another sugary treat, there’s an instant reward to our brains,” she said. “It’s why we’re eating them in the first place. We want that instant gratification. So, the temptation is to reward our weight loss success by taking small amounts of the things we’re trying to avoid. While these things may not hurt us too much in small doses, those small doses add up , and can derail the plan entirely. Instead of rewarding yourself with a sweet snack, try doing so with other things you like, such as a book or magazine, a new shirt or blouse, or a spa day. It’s okay to pamper yourself and reward yourself for reaching your goals, but remember to do so in a non-food way,” she said. “But, definitely reward yourself in some way because your new weight loss habits need to be tied to something good, too,” she added.

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