80% of New Year’s Resolutions Fail by February

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Many people start off the new year with a list of resolutions, and in most cases, weight loss tops the list. But studies show that there’s an 80% chance resolutions will fail by February.

The problem, experts believe, is that people set overly ambitious diet and exercise goals. A recent study from Drexel University found that losing a lot of weight in a short period of time had a poor outcome over the long term.

That problem is compounded by people following fad diets that can lead to uncomfortable or dangerous side effects. Ultra-restrictive and low-calorie diets, like the 3-Day Military Diet or the grapefruit diet, can have a negative effect on metabolism and lead to nutritional deficiencies. Followers may see quick weight loss, but the results are typically unsustainable.

The secret to maintaining resolutions, according to experts, is to set realistic goals, such as going to the gym a few times a week. But exercise is just one piece of the puzzle. Diet is just as – if not more – important than exercise.

Making permanent dietary changes, experts say, is one of the most effective ways to maintain weight loss. Cutting out processed foods while lowering carbohydrate and sugar intake can help promote weight loss over the long-term.

Exercise and a healthy diet can help followers reach their weight loss goals, but studies show that weight loss can only be maintained if physical activity is increased.

One study from the National Institute of Health tracked the contestants from the TV series The Biggest Loser. Those who maintained their weight loss increased their physical activity by 160% from before the competition. Those who regained the weight only increased their activity by 34%, on average.

While weight loss is a gradual effort, experts urge people not to give up on their resolutions. Inspiring tales of people who have lost and kept off the weight prove that it is possible to change diet and lifestyle habits.

Others have found success by turning to modern medicine.

One man from Grafton, West Virginia is a prime example of how gastric bypass can help people reach their weight loss goals. Bryan Smith made a resolution to lose weight. One year later, he is down 193 pounds.

Smith started gaining weight when he was in and out of the hospital due to a spider bite. While the gastric bypass helped him lose weight, Smith still leads a healthy lifestyle. He eats a healthy diet and exercises on a regular basis.

But even gastric bypass is not a miracle solution. The surgery can help patients control their portions, but poor diet choices can leave weight loss at a standstill. Patients eventually reach a plateau that they cannot overcome without diet and exercise changes.

Nutritionists and doctors agree that safe and healthy weight loss starts by getting off the couch and making better food choices. Surgery should be a last resort, and is typically reserved for those in life-threatening situations. Supplements can help, but experts caution against using products that claim to help users lose a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.