Wagner College News Service
As the year 2010 draws to a close, many of us are thinking about how to break old habits in the New Year.
For some expert advice on New Year’s resolutions, we turned to Dr. Laurence J. Nolan, an associate professor of psychology at Wagner College on Staten Island who specializes in the study of eating behavior.
His basic advice?
Easy does it.
“Lifestyle change is hard,” says Dr. Nolan. “Dramatic change is harder — and when we fail, the letdown is devastating.
“If you’re concerned about your weight and want to do something about it, set one or two realistic goals for yourself. For instance, don’t drink soda — that’s one of the easiest ways to reduce caloric intake.
“And if you’re used to taking a heaping pile of French fries with your lunch in the cafeteria every day, don’t think you need to cut them out forever — just not all the time.”
The other end of the weight equation from caloric intake is physical activity — and the same rule should apply to realistic thinking about New Year’s resolutions concerning exercise, says Dr. Nolan.
“Think about making small changes,” he says. “Drive less. Park farther from the store. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Ride a bike, or take the bus or the subway — research shows that people who use public transportation tend to be thinner.
“The fact is that when you set small goals, you tend to achieve them — and that sense of accomplishment breeds a desire to do more.
“For instance, if you start off saying that you’re going to go to the gym four times a week and you only go once, you’ll quit. But if you say you’ll go once a week and go twice, you’ll go more.”
Most research into diet and health says that deprivation simply doesn’t work, according to Dr. Nolan.
“Remember, weight gain usually occurs over a number of years — and realistic, enduring weight loss happens the same way,” the professor says. “There are no magic formulas except the ones we already know: Do more, and eat less.
“And easy does it.”
Wagner College is a U.S. News & World Report Top 25 regional university on Staten Island in New York City.
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