MONDAY, Dec. 27, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- If your New Year's resolution involves losing weight, your best chance of success may be to divide your goal into small, manageable parts that you can work on every day, suggests an expert.
"Instead of making the number on the scale the focus, look for other ways to measure success," Stefanie C. Barthmare, a psychotherapist at the Methodist Weight Management Center at Methodist Hospital in Houston, said in a hospital news release.
When you set your goal, take the time to create for yourself a vision of what it will look like to achieve that goal. For example, your goal might be to participate in a specific activity or to fit into a smaller size of pants. The next step is to break your goal down into segments and gradually begin to stop consuming foods that are bad for you.
"Start by cutting down your intake of soda from three a day to one for the first week, and the next week maybe eliminate cheese from your sandwiches," Barthmare advised.
"It's also important to realize that depriving yourself never works. By refraining from one behavior that you know is potentially causing weight gain, you will begin to accumulate small successes. These positive actions and resulting good feelings give you the momentum to keep going and eventually reach the goal you set for yourself."
Barthmare explained that suddenly turning your back on all unhealthy foods may work for a few days or weeks. But when you start thinking about how you are restricting yourself, it's highly likely that you will return to your old eating habits and gain even more weight.
"When you don't come up with a plan to lose weight and the process is torture, you are setting yourself up for failure," she warned. "Doing it a little at a time will keep you from being overwhelmed, and keep you on track for keeping the pounds off and keeping your New Year's resolution."
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases offers weight loss advice.