With summer fast approaching, you might be thinking now is the time to get healthy. Well, if you’re going to start a new diet or a fitness program, don’t put it off until tomorrow… Monday is the best day to start a new diet.

Maligned Mondays are actually days that tap into the “fresh start effect,” when we feel like “a new person,” ready to take on a change in habits, according to a report.

“On certain days, called temporal landmarks, you just have a different view of yourself,” said Jason Riis, visiting professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of the report. “You become more forward looking.”

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People think, “I am going to be a new person and … I am no longer going to be a part of the path of failure,” said Hengchen Dai, a co-author of the paper and doctoral student at Penn. “It’s changing the perception of the self.”

To determine these temporal landmarks, the Wharton researchers conducted three experiments: They scoured Google analytics to see when and how often people searched for diet and exercise; Then they tracked the most popular days at the University of Pennsylvania gym; Finally, they examined a website where people made contracts with themselves to change a behavior — they lost money if they failed.

The Wharton researchers didn’t study whether people achieved their goals, but psychologist John Norcross of the University of Scranton said that people who make New Year’s resolutions or quit smoking during events like the Great American Smokeout actually are more successful than expected.

Here are the most popular days for starting a diet, beginning a new workout program, or even switching your 401K into an IRA, according to Wharton researchers.

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Jan. 25, 201604:02

Mondays

“Monday is going to be a fresh start,” Dai said. Ann Kearney-Cooke agreed that Mondays motivate people.

“I think it gives an energy surge to people,” said Kearney-Cooke, the psychologist at the Cincinnati Psychotherapy Institute.

Mondays do have drawbacks. People can use all their energy and willpower up early on, meaning they can burn out later in the week. If you fall off track by Thursday, don’t wait until Monday for a new start, says Kearney-Cooke.

“The key to change is at the next meal or the next morning, starting over,” said Kearney-Cooke.

There’s no evidence of a “bad day” to start a new behavior, but she says don’t start something new when you feel low energy and willpower.

Birthdays and anniversaries

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Dai realized that she made promises on her birthday and anniversary and wondered if others did, too.

“Every year I make birthday resolutions, I make resolutions on my anniversary. For me, I feel like those are the landmarks that I would like to seize upon,” she said.

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It turns out she’s not alone.

The researchers found that day after a birthday many people hit the gym, with the exception of the 21st birthday (too many people are nursing hangovers to consider a workout after that birthday).

“ are meaningful events looking forward,” Riis said, adding that they spur changes in behaviors.

Birthdays also can serve as a time to revisit an earlier goal.

“I think humans like to be reminded ‘Here is an opportunity, go for it,’” said John Norcross, a distinguished professor of psychology at the University of Scranton. “We ask people to start on a day that signifies a new beginning or a meaningfully important date.”

First day of the month

Gym attendance is up in the beginning of the month, according to Google search data. So don’t be surprised if workout classes are more crowded or you have to wait for a popular exercise machine.

New season or new semester

Many people make changes at the beginning of the seasons, researchers found. Spring is a time to clear clutter from our lives, or a reminder that bathing suit season is coming. Fall brings the start of a new school year.

One of the times students are more likely to work out is at the start of the semester, Wharton researchers found.

New Year’s

It’s a cliché, but people have made New Year’s resolutions since ancient Roman times.

“It is the get out of jail free card … Here is the socially acceptable time to start anew,” said Norcross.

He has studied New Year’s resolutions and found that about 40 percent of people who make them, stick to their resolutions.

“Success rates are better than most people imagine,” Norcross said.

He finds that while a new year gives people an opportunity to think about the future and their future selves, it also helps them reflect on the past and their negative behaviors. He believes people need both perspectives to change.

“Using both sources tends to be associated with success — not just being disgusted looking forward and saying ‘here is my new life.’”

People are more likely to change around the new year because there is more social support and more information available, he added.

But you don’t have to wait for New Year’s. Patients modify habits on many holidays, including Mother’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Lent, Yom Kippur or any other holiday that holds meaning for them.

RELATED:

Her weight spiked after marriage — 9 tips on how she lost 56 pounds

Is diet or exercise best for weight loss? 4 reasons your workout doesn’t work

Want to join a gym? Summer may have best prices

This story was originally published in 2014.

Farmers’ Almanac’s Best Days to Start Diet to Lose WeightFebruary 1 to March 1

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Throw that New Year’s resolution in the trash. Starting a diet in January is a bad idea, researchers have found.

A study at the University of Exeter in England shows that when you try to lose weight in the dead of winter, the evolutionary deck is stacked against you.

In our hunter-gatherer days, being underweight in the winter was life-threatening. Food was scarce. So packing on extra weight in cold months became a trait favored by evolution. Paleolithic man developed a stronger urge to eat in winter. 1,2

The researchers used computer modeling based upon the optimal amount of fat humans should store for survival. They cross-referenced this to the amount of food available to early man. They found that when food is scarce, people attempt to build their fat reserves. When food is readily available, they shed extra pounds.

The lead researcher stated: “New Year’s Day is the worst possible time to start a new diet.”

So when is the best time to try to lose weight? As you might suspect, it’s the warmer months.3,4

Sunlight increases serotonin levels. This gives us a sense of well-being and makes us less likely to fall prey to food cravings.

Warmer weather and longer days mean people spend more time outside being active instead of inside sitting in a chair.

In the warmer months we are thirstier. This means we drink more water, which fights hunger. There is also an abundance of seasonal fresh and low-calorie vegetables and fruits. Your body counts nutrients, not calories. So if you eat the right nutrients, your body will feel full.

Here’s how you can increase your chances of diet success:

  • Set a date to start. This allows you to mentally gear up towards the big day. You gain motivation and resolve. Choose any day in the warm weather months between April and September.5
  • Out with the bad. As the day approaches, go through your kitchen and get rid of all foods that don’t fit your diet.6
  • Buddy up. Find a diet partner. This can mean the difference between success and failure. Diet buddies give each other mutual support.7
  • Use the Paleo diet. We have long advocated this high-protein, low-carb eating plan. It not only helps you lose weight, but boosts overall health.

But there are even easier ways to see real weight loss results…

Like the secret “switch” you can flip that tells your body to burn fat instead of store it… The little-known chemical one doctor says makes your body demand unhealthy high-calorie foods… And how to shed pounds of body fat—without cutting back on the foods you love.

Discover how to unlock your fat-burning potential HERE.

In Good Health,

Angela Salerno
Publisher, INH Health Watch

Like this Article? Forward this article here or Share on Facebook.

Avoid These 22 Mistakes When Starting An Exercise And Diet Plan

9. SHORT-TERM DIET

When you do one of these “fad diets” and reach your goal weight, what’s next? Go back to your old lifestyle? You are going to gain the weight back and then some. Your plan should focus on being healthy and energetic.

10. OVEREATING

A lot of people make this mistake. Overeating will increase not only your waist, but also your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even depression. For more information on portion control go to: http://www.aarp.org/health/staying_healthy/eating/size_does_matter.html

11. SEVERE DIET

Some people follow strict diets; they avoid eating meats, grains, juices or some vegetables. Sometimes they decide eating once a day will do the trick; or just consuming 500 to 800 calories daily. These restrictions will slow your metabolism and cause you health issues because you are not giving your body the energy it needs to function. At minimum, you should be consuming 1200 to 1500 daily calories – and even more if you work out every week.

12. NOT ENOUGH H2O

Please, drink at least 8 glasses of water daily (8 oz each). Water is great for your health, it gives you energy, improves athletic performance, removes toxins and waste from your body. It will help you lose weight and keep your skin beautiful, among other great benefits. Plus, water has ZERO calories.

13. “I EXERCISE, SO I CAN EAT A LOT OF EVERYTHING”

Don’t think you can be healthy with exercise and a poor diet consisting of junk food and no portion control. You will ask yourself “Why am I not losing weight? I do a lot of exercise.” Well the answer it’s obvious – you don’t have a good balanced between physical activity and nutrition.

14. OVER EXERCISING

Your body needs rest, and over exercising can cause insomnia, exhaustion, depression, bone fractures, arthritis, among other conditions. Remember, to reach your goal weight you need TIME and PATIENCE.

15. NO FRUIT/ALWAYS JUICES

Fruit juices have all the sugar from the fruit, but none of the fiber. So if you want to make a choice, go with the fruit. And if you still desire the drink, make sure is 100% juice and with no sugar added.

16. EATING A LOT OF FAT FREE SNACKS

If a product is fat free or sugar free, it doesn’t mean you can eat a ton of it. You should always have control. Note: Did you know that some fat free products have more sugar to compensate for the decreased fat?

17. EATING VEGGIES OR SALADS ONLY

You are not going to last a lifetime eating only salads or veggies. Yes, they are a great alternative, but if you learn the benefits of other foods, you’ll see you have more choices. Also, be careful and don’t fool yourself thinking you’re eating healthy because you are having a salad full of croutons, cheese, bacon bits, and high fat dressings. Also avoid fried veggies – eat them grilled or steamed.

18. NO SNACKS BETWEEN MEALS

Why not? Snacks are an excellent way to help you control your regular meal portions, and help to control your appetite. Just make sure you are eating healthy snacks, low in calories. And why not eat small meals every 3 to 4 hours?

19. NO DESSERTS

Why are you going to deny yourself a great dessert? Just eat a small portion, or find a healthy one. And if you are in a restaurant and they serve you a larger-than-life dessert, share with your friends. This will prevent you from feeling guilty about eating the whole thing.

20. AVOIDING ALL FATS

Just because it has fat doesn’t mean it’s always bad. Learn to distinguish between good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and the bad fats (saturated and Trans). For more info go to http://www.healthcastle.com/goodfats-badfats.shtml

21. PAY NO ATTENTION TO FOOD LABELS AND INGREDIENTS LIST

Read the nutritional facts so you can make better choices and know what you are putting in your body. Watch out for food with a very long list of ingredients that you can’t pronounce.

22. CARBS BANNED

Carbs are a good source of energy and your body needs them, so don’t ban all of them. You can control the amount you are having and choose the complex carbs that are good for you (Whole wheat products, cereals high in fiber and low in sugar, brown rice, oatmeal, and fruits).

Whether you’re walking into the gym for the first time in your life, or you’re recommitting to your annual goal to lose 20lbs, the key to sticking to your goal is taking the right approach—and not expecting to have abs like a fitness model right from the start.

If you’re at 25% body fat (or above), your goal is to get down to 20%. Set a goal to start seeing progress three months down the line. We know that seems like a lifetime when you want to see changes now—we, too, understand the allure of 7% body fat—but your new mantra is “baby steps”.

Here’s a guide to losing weight and getting down to 20% body fat.

Priority 1: Give yourself time

“A lot of guys want to go and lose huge amounts of weight right away, so they cut everything at once and hit the gym hard, which is effective for short-term weight loss—but there’s about a 50% fallout rate in the first month of a diet,” says Jim White, R.D., an ACSM exercise physiologist and the owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach, VA.

Small changes are sustainable and keep your motivation from crashing. “With the right efforts, guys can make a major transformation in 12 weeks,” White says. “Thirty pounds in three months is feasible.”

Speaking of working out, don’t start a crazy-hard workout plan that’s hard to follow through. “It’s tempting to push yourself and ‘suck it up,’ but you really want to start off slow and make the game winnable,” says Marc Perry, C.S.C.S., ACE-CPT, and founder of Built Lean. “When you’re not ready, those very intense workout plans will just delay your progress.”

Priority 2: Focus your efforts on healthy nutrition

“Studies show exercise and nutrition together have the best results, but if you’re going to focus your energies, nutrition is what’s going to change your body the most here,” says White. Plus, you’ll see results faster from eating well than working out, White adds. There’s definitely a workout component to getting down to 20% body fat, but the majority of your energy should go to cleaning up your eating habits.

1. Cut sugar-drink intake in half

Cutting back on your liquid calories can help you shave 500 calories off your weekly intake with minimal effort, White says. Soda, alcohol, juices, fancy coffees that more closely resemble milkshakes—these are all prime culprits that prevent people from losing weight.

Don’t go cold turkey, though. At this point, totally depriving yourself of routine comfort foods will push you right off the wagon. Instead, aim to trade half these indulgences for water (hydrating will also help you lose weight quicker, by the way) and upgrade the other half to healthier options.

“Replace your high-calorie coffee with a coffee with skim milk, switch sugary juices for one with more vegetables and less fruit, and swap high-calorie energy drinks for sugar-free drinks,” White advises. Eventually, you’ll lose your taste for the stuff and it’ll be easier to cut back even more.

2. Get a food scale

This may seem hardcore, but measuring out your food is one of the easiest and fastest ways to really understand proper portion size.

High-fiber foods will help you feel full as you manage your intake.

3. Track your food intake

Sure, dropping 1,000 calories a day would help you lose weight, but you need a baseline idea of what you’re eating already.

“The best thing you can do is write it down,” says White. “Seeing how many calories you’re eating, or where your sodium is coming from, can be really eye-opening.”

Use an app like MyFitnessPal or Lose It. Plus, tracking your diet will help keep you accountable, White adds. When you look at your weekly food log and have to confront that break-room donut from Wednesday afternoon, it’ll remind you of your long-term goal and help you stay on track.

4. Eat five meals a day

One of the biggest roadblocks at this stage is late-night eating, White says. Adding more structure to your eating routine can help.

“Skipping real meals throughout the day makes your body call for tons of food later on, but if you eat five meals a day, it’ll help curb your appetite,” White says. With three main meals and two snacks in-between, you’ll be less likely to pop in a frozen pizza or demolish a bag of Doritos once you’re home.

Do allow yourself a small, high-protein snack before bed, like Greek yogurt or a frozen yogurt snack. “With a small, 200-calorie snack, you won’t see weight gain, but it will help your cravings,” he explains.

5. Upgrade half your snacks

One of the hardest habits to kick is absent-minded eating. “Cookies, crackers, most anything in a box really, are all high in calories, salt, and fat. Plus they’re addicting and not filling, which leads to absent-minded eating and a lot of unnecessary calories,” White says. Eating structured meals will help, but so will trading out your snacks. Don’t clean out your whole snack drawer though—remember, baby steps. Aim to trade half your chips and crackers for raw nuts, a banana, air-popped popcorn.

6. Skip the salad

Great news: You shouldn’t limit yourself to quintessential diet foods. “If you’re over 200lbs, a salad for lunch isn’t going to satiate you,” White says. If you’re used to downing a bag of salty, greasy chips every day, switching over to rice cakes is just asking for cravings to win. Instead, just eat smaller amounts of the foods you love. “I wouldn’t negate the potatoes and steak or chicken and pasta. You just have to make sure your portion sizes are on point,” White says. “Then, when you hit 20% body fat, you can start narrowing it in.”

How to design your workout to get down to 20% body fat

1. Set small goals
“Create specific workout goals that are motivating and achievable; ones that get you excited,” says Perry. Maybe it’s doing five pullups, or dropping below 200lbs. Creating a specific, tangible goal and connecting with it daily will help you break through to consistently exercise, he adds.

2. Go slow
This may seem counterintuitive to losing weight, but when you’re out of shape, it’s critical to take your time ramping up the workouts. “So many guys new to the gym work out really, really hard, and then really, really sore, and then lose their motivation to go to the gym,” White says.

Plus, this ups your chances for injuries. Long, hard workouts when you’re unconditioned can be plain old demoralizing, Perry adds. Start easy, find your threshold, and ramp up the workouts in a few weeks, he advises. “Maybe you start with one set of each exercise, then two the next wee, then three the next week, and so on.”

The ideal training plan to start losing weight

Focus on both cardio and resistance training, and opt for total-body workouts rather than targeting specific muscle groups. Leave the biceps curls for later.

“Hitting all of your muscles every workout will have a larger metabolic effect, help you burn more calories, and help prevent unnecessary soreness,” Perry adds.

At this point, your primary goal is to develop a strong foundation, says Joe Holder, a performance trainer at S10 gym (named for sub-10% body fat), Nike trainer/run coach, and founder of The Ocho System. Specifically, you want to:

  • Develop a quality cardiovascular base to lower your resting heart rate;
  • Speed your heart rate recovery (which will be crucial as you continue your fitness journey);
  • Boost your coordination on base movements so that once you’re ready for more intensity, you can handle it.

The first two weeks, aim to work out three days a week: one day each of strength training, bodyweight training, and cardio conditioning. After two weeks, add a fourth day. Your goal is to work up to five days a week, but three times a week should be your base goal, even weeks where you’re pressed for time. And if you do three workouts per week for longer than that, don’t worry. “If you’re doing what you should be doing outside of the gym with your nutrition, you should see improvements even if you work out less frequently,” Holder says.

Your goal is for the week to look something like:

Day 1: Conditioning work

Work with battle ropes, which will build strength and skyrocket your heart rate, Holder says. Try 15 seconds of rope slams and 45 seconds of jump rope, five times. Rest for three minutes after each set. Do three sets.

Day 2: Bodyweight training

Focus on base movement patterns that move you in multiple directions, Holder says. Try one of these six muscle-building bodyweight workouts or the best bodyweight workout of all time.

Day 3: Rest

Day 4: Conditioning work

Day 5: Mobility work

Check out three ways to test your mobility—and bulletproof your joints and the bodyweight routine to improve mobility and athleticism.

Day 6: Strength training with weights

Aim for complex movements that work more than one muscle at once, using dumbbells or barbells, Holder says. Work with a light-to-moderate weight you can use for 10-15 reps, for five sets, and rest for 90 seconds to 2 minutes between sets, he adds. Some of Holder’s favorite moves: deadlifts, bentover rows, shoulder press, squats, and alternating lunges.

Day 7: Rest

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If you’re trying to be healthier or lose weight, which should you tackle first: diet or exercise? That’s a trick question: A new study from Stanford University shows that exercise and diet habits are best maintained when you start them both at the same time.

Researchers split 300 people into four groups. One group was counseled to eat better and exercise more right away. The second group was told to start eating better first (and try to exercise more later), while the third group was told to first change their exercise habits (and in time try to eat better). A fourth group didn’t make any changes.

Those who’d started exercising and eating well at the same time best stuck to the national fitness and nutrition requirements: 150 minutes of exercise per week and five to nine daily servings of fruit and vegetables, with saturated fats limited to 10% or less of total intake.

Participants who started exercising before dieting also managed to uphold both habits, though not as well. Those who started dieting first only managed to meet dietary goals and couldn’t stick with exercise throughout the year.

“It seems that when starting nutritional changes first, people get so engrossed in the diet part that it takes motivational energy away from the rest of the program,” says lead study author Abby King, PhD, a professor of health research and policy in medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. “Whereas when starting with physical activity, people can see visual changes across a four-month period, like clothes fitting better, which may help motivate them to stick with it. And of course when adopting both dietary and fitness changes at the same time, the person would see the most benefits and be more motivated to stick with the changes.”

If you don’t have the time or energy to make both changes, start with exercise first, King advises. Do as much as you can—you don’t have to sign up for a marathon. In the study, researchers suggested brisk walking and outfitted participants with pedometers. “It’s the easiest thing to do. Wear a pedometer for a week to establish your baseline and then aim to increase your weekly steps by 10%.”

More from Prevention: 14 Best Walking Workouts

Lara Rosenbaum Writer/editor Lara Rosenbaum lives in San Francisco, and is an avid health advocate and outdoorswoman.

Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are

Do you want to loose weight before the summer, and wonder when to start a diet according to the lunar calendar? Of course, the beauty lunar calendar contains information about the days that are most favorable for your start. But, not all is so unambiguous. The lunar calendar does not advise anyone to starve thoughtlessly, leading yourself to exhaustion. On the contrary, it contains many recommendations on specific products that are useful, and is aimed primarily at the complex improvement of the body.

Beauty lunar calendar also identifies the days in which fasting is not recommended – when the body is weakened and needs energy. Thus, the Moon does not just tell us when it’s better to start losing weight, but also how to create the right diet to look attractive and feel good.

What lunar day is today? Moon Calendar >>

Beauty lunar calendar – when to start a diet

The ideal day to start a diet is 20 lunar day. The waning moon at this time helps to abandon the sweets without strong mental anguish and promises that the effect of your diet will last for a long time. Starting to lose weight on the waning moon, you will quickly get rid of extra pounds and will be able to hold on to one weight without picking up excess again, for a quite long time.

But, the first days after New Moon are also suitable for starting a diet. Especially if the diet is aimed primarily at improving the body, and not for weight loss. The best day for such a start is the 2 lunar day.

In addition, beauty lunar calendar contains several days, perfectly suitable for the complex body cleansing and fasting. These are 25, 26 and 28 lunar days.

Choosing when to start a diet according to the lunar calendar? Firstly, erase the days, that are unfavorable for starvation and diet. These are 5, 9, 13, 14, 16, 17, 22 and 24 days of the lunar cycle.

How to create the right diet?

After determining the day to start your diet, it is important to think about how your body will receive vitamins and nutrients, necessary for life and health. Beauty lunar calendar offers tips for every day, taking into account the needs of the human body and the strength of the Moon energy. Find out detailed recommendations here 👇

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Is January 2 the Best Time to Start a Diet?

The advertisements are already appearing. Before you even have the courage to step on the scale and see what weight havoc the holidays have wrought, you are being besieged by 2019 weight-loss promises. If you believe the advertisements and start your diet by January 2, you are sure to lose all the weight you gained eating Christmas cookies and drinking eggnog, and maybe even start to lose the weight you gained the previous 11 months of the year.

Or maybe not.

It is tempting to join a national weight-loss support group, or sign up for prepackaged meals delivered right to your door, or try a new diet that might last longer than last year’s fad. It is reassuring to know, as you munch your way through leftover Christmas candy, nuts, cookies, and maybe even fruit cake, that in a few days you will be eating only steamed kale, broiled chicken breasts, baked fish, and brown rice. Water will replace alcohol, and your free time will be spent on the exercise equipment (once you can find it) in your basement or lifting weights in the gym.

Eating more healthily is a goal all of us should set for the New Year, along with a serious resolution to exercise. And, fortunately, one of the diets being talked about for 2019 is one that should be followed, whether weight has to be lost or not. It is the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), a food plan put out by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Unlike the diets of the past few years (e.g., Paleo, Keto, Cleanse), this one is sensible and promotes the consumption of vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, high-fiber carbohydrates, lean protein, and avoidance of junk foods. Oh, and a serious decrease in sodium intake. Indeed, one worries that the diet relies so much on eating foods that are good for you, it will not have the same appeal as diets that allow you to gobble bacon, or avoid vegetables, or describe the heroic cleanses through which you are putting your body.

But is January the optimal time to restrict calories and follow a food plan that requires monitoring portion size, eliminating winter comfort foods, and committing yourself to rigorous workouts several times a week? Do diets started in January even last until the first days of spring?

Starting a diet in January may be futile. If your winter typically brings unrelenting cold, ice, snow, freezing rain, early darkness and a persistent feeling of apathy and gloom, dieting is going to be one more uncomfortable thing to contend with. Even the food choices in the supermarket reflect the impact of winter. Fruits and vegetables may have traveled thousands of miles to reach the produce shelves and rarely have the intense flavor of similar foods that will available from local farmers six months later. Recipes that promise to decrease your calorie intake usually avoid the hearty ingredients and flavors we crave when battling the cold winds or icy slush of a typical winter day. A large salad with poached salmon and a few kernels of rice, so appealing on a hot summer day, seems out of place. We want to eat soups thickened with barley or beans and stews simmered with beef and full of starchy root vegetables instead. Finding time to exercise usually necessitates going for that walk, jog, or trip to the gym before sunrise or after sunset, when whatever warmth the sun brought to the day has either not yet appeared or has vanished.

Compromise instead. Feed the leftover nuts, cookies, and fruitcake to the squirrels, and start eating food groups other than sugar and fat and alcohol. Eat the foods on the DASH food plan: lean protein, high-fiber starches, and deep orange and green-colored vegetables. Cut back or cut out any alcohol, and promise yourself that you will do a 5 or 7-minute workout at least three or four times a week. Don’t feel guilty if the dreariness of winter causes you to cheat occasionally with portion sizes or a treat, but don’t indulge often. You may not be on a real diet, but you also do not want to gain weight.

When the robins reappear, start the diet. The days will be longer, the weather promises to be benign, and your mood, along with the produce, will be better.

But do start a diet after New Year’s Day if you live in the warmer regions of the country. Winter means cooler temperatures, so it is possible to exercise outside without fear of heat stroke. Ripening local fruits and vegetables are available at farmer’s markets and in the supermarket. Sunsets are later than in northern neighborhoods, and the increased hours of daylight make for a better mood. Indeed, southern winters can be much more accommodating to weight-loss programs than the often unbearable heat and humidity six months later.

Regardless of whether you delay or start your diet the day after New Year’s Day, you should not be tempted into following one that promises easy, quick, no-hunger, no-cravings, no-exercise weight loss. The before-and-after pictures, along with the testimonials (“I lost 40 pounds in just two weeks and feel so energetic!”), must be resisted. The weight will stay off for about as long as you can put M&M’s in your mouth and not crunch them.

Give yourself the year to lose some weight, gain a fitter body, develop healthy food choices, wean yourself away from highly processed sugary, fatty, and salty foods, and make these new habits stick. If you succeed, then on New Year’s Day 2020, your resolutions can skip dieting.

The Moon Diet Plan

It’s well known that the moon affects the earth’s oceans and rivers with its gravitational pull. It is less known that the moon also affects the water contained in the human body. The moon diet takes advantage of the moon’s power to help you cleanse your body and lose weight. On certain days some people have reported losing up to 6 lbs in a single 24-hour period! Losing around 2 pounds in 24 hours is more common but the potential for quick weight loss is still exciting. Another name for this diet concept is the lunar diet or “Werewolf Diet”.
The Moon’s Effect on the Body
Human knowledge and mythology throughout time have spoken of the moon’s effect on the earth and the human body. The moon’s gravitational pull dictates the action of the ocean’s tides. A woman’s menstrual cycle runs in parallel to the cycle of the moon. Some believe the moon affects the emotions—for example, the full moon stimulates aggressive behavior.
In addition, the moon can affect the water contained in the human body. The human body is 60% water. When the moon reaches its full phase and new phase, its gravitational pull combines with the sun for the greatest gravitational effect. This period of increased effect lasts about 24 hours.

Two Plans

There are two moon diet plans—basic and extended.

  1. The basic moon diet plan consists of a 24-hour fasting day in which you consume only water and juice. It must take place during either the full moon or the new moon. During the fasting day your body is cleansed of toxins, and you can lose up to 6 lbs of water weight in one day.
  2. The extended moon diet plan begins with a fasting day on a full moon, as described by the basic moon diet plan, then provides additional guidelines for weight loss and healthy eating during each of the major phases of the moon.

In addition, each of these plans is compatible with many other diet programs. Combining the lunar diet with another diet program can give you an extra boost in your weight loss efforts. The fasting days of the basic moon diet plan can be implemented in many weight loss programs. A single day of consuming only water and fresh juice simply detoxifies your body, and the lack of toxins makes further weight loss even easier.
The moon diet also helps you decide when to start a new diet plan. The period of the waning moon that immediately follows the full moon is often the best time to start dieting, due to the corresponding decrease in the body’s appetites and cravings.
For example, if you are familiar with the very popular HCG diet (or here), here’s how it would work: The loading days would begin during the two days immediately prior to the full moon, when food cravings are at their height. The low-calorie phase would begin on the first day after the full moon, when due to the waning moon, cravings begin to decrease and the body enjoys a natural detoxifying stage. While on the HCG diet, you might also choose to enjoy a fasting day during the next new moon or full moon (it is allowed on the protocol because you are not required to consume the full allotment of calories). You can also follow almost all of the guidelines for the waxing and waning phases of the moon (see extended moon diet) during the HCG diet. Other ways to help you lose weight can be found on Lean Body Institute among many others.

Benefits of the Moon Diet

Besides the potential to lose 6 lbs in a single day, this lunar phase based diet is also a great way to detox your body and improve your immunity. Furthermore, it can also be used to lose additional weight throughout the moon’s cycle and to boost the effectiveness of other diet plans.
If your hectic lifestyle makes it hard for you to cook special foods or stick to lengthy, demanding schedules, the moon diet can be a great way to lose some weight and help you feel lighter and healthier.
Many women worldwide have seen positive results from the moon diet, and it poses no health risks; however, none of this is to be considered medical advice and it is always recommended that you speak to your doctor before starting a diet. Note that fasting is not recommended for women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding a baby.
To predict and view moon phases ahead of time accurately (and more) try QuickPhase Pro moon software for Windows. For iPhone and Android devices, consider Luna Solaria.

It’s almost impossible to keep up with all the different diets that come in and out of the spotlight each month, and with the emergence of numerous Instagram and YouTube healthy eating ‘gurus’, it can be hard to distinguish between informed nutritional advice and fad diets. Here are six questions you should ask before embarking on any weight loss plan to help you determine if it will be effective and, most importantly, safe for you…

Does it provide enough kcalories (kcals)?

The average daily requirement for a moderately active adult is 2,500 kcals for men and 2,000 kcals for women but when dieting, you’ll need to reduce your energy intake in order to burn off more than you consume.

Nutritionist Kerry Torrens says, “A general guide is to aim for fat loss of 1lb per week. To achieve this, it’s suggested that you create a deficit of 500 calories a day from your normal eating plan. The best way to start is to keep a food diary so you understand exactly how much, what and when you’re eating and drinking.”

Identify where you can cut excess or empty calories, and focus instead on making your meals nutrient-dense by including leafy greens such as kale, spinach and rocket, as well as wholegrains such as quinoa and barley, along with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Swapping sugar-sweetened or alcoholic drinks for low-calorie options is a good way to cut back on calories without feeling hungry.

Children, teenagers and pregnant women will have special calorie requirements, and should be supervised by a doctor when embarking on any restrictive eating plan. Similarly, those with a diagnosed medical condition should refer to their GP prior to commencing a weight loss plan.

Take our quiz to find out how many calories are in your favourite alcoholic beverages.

Is it balanced?

Diets that encourage cutting out or severely restricting entire food groups or macronutrients (e.g. carbohydrates) are likely to be unbalanced and difficult to maintain. Any diet that promotes eating mainly one type of food (such as the cabbage soup diet) may also put you at risk of nutritional deficiencies. Read our advice on eating a balanced diet to get an idea of what you need, whether you’re male, female, vegetarian or vegan.

Is it sustainable?

Can you stick to the plan for a long period of time? What happens when the diet period is over, or you reach your goal? Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet is something that you need to fit into your lifestyle permanently – if you revert back to your old eating habits, you’re likely to put the weight back on. Can you make your chosen style of eating fit around your commitments? If you eat out or travel a lot for work, try to plan in advance how you could work around these. If a plan is too rigid and prescriptive you’ll have a hard time following it in the long-term.

Is it scientifically sound?

This is one of the hardest questions to answer. Looking into the background and qualifications of the person behind the diet might give you some indication of its legitimacy, but sometimes the answer isn’t that simple. As Kerry points out, “Even plans developed by trained medical practitioners are not without their critics – Atkins for example was formulated by an American Cardiologist, yet it recieved a huge amount of criticism, and still does. If you want guidance and reassurance that you’re following a well-balanced diet you should seek the help of a registered dietitian.”

Is the final goal realistic?

Diets which promise dramatic weight loss are unlikely to deliver the quick-fix results you’re after, and even if they do, they may not be desirable. ‘As a general guide, between 0.5lb and 2lbs a week is considered a safe amount of weight loss per week’, Kerry says. It’s also important to aim for a suitable goal weight – even if you lose the weight slowly and sensibly, you don’t want to risk losing too much and becoming underweight. The NHS offer an easy-to-understand tool to calculate your BMI – use this to work out what your BMI is right now, and whether your target weight is healthy for you.

Is it safe?

Just because friends or family have had success with a particular diet doesn’t mean that it is the right plan for you too. It’s always advisable to see your GP before starting a weight loss plan, but especially important for those with existing medical conditions, including any history of eating disorders.

Read more about popular diets….

What is the 5:2 diet?
What is the Paleo diet?
What is the Atkins diet?
What is the Dukan diet?
Read up on more popular diets

Have you tried, or been tempted to try, a weight loss plan? Let us know in the comments below…

This article was last reviewed on 8 July 2019 by Kerry Torrens.

A qualified nutritionist (MBANT), Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food magazine. Kerry is a member of the The Royal Society of Medicine, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

What You Should Know Before You Start A Weight-loss Plan

Exercise

Both adults and children should get regular physical activity. It is important for losing weight and maintaining good health. Below are ways to increase your activity and burn calories.

  • Add 10 minutes a day to your current exercise routine.
  • Challenge yourself. Move from moderate to intense activities. (See chart below.)
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park further away or walk to your destination instead of driving.
  • Do more household chores, such as dusting, vacuuming, or weeding.
  • Go for a walk or run with your dog and/or kids.
  • Exercise at home while watching TV.
  • Be active on your vacations. Try going for a hike or bike ride.
  • Buy a pedometer or activity tracker. This measures how many steps you take each day. Try to increase your daily number of steps over time. (You can buy pedometers at sporting goods stores.) Some experts recommend walking at least 10,000 steps a day.
  • Limit time spent online, watching TV, and playing video games. This should equal less than 2 hours total per day.

Moderate activity Approximate calories per 30 minutes*
Stretching 90
Light weight lifting 110
Walking (3.5 miles per hour, or mph) 140
Bicycling (less than 10 mph) 145
Light yard work or gardening 165
Golf 165
Dancing 165
Hiking 185
Intense activity Approximate calories per 30 minutes*
Heavy weight lifting 220
Heavy yard work 220
Basketball 220
Walking (4.5 mph) 230
Aerobics 240
Swimming (freestyle laps) 255
Running or jogging (5 mph, or 12 minutes/mile) 295
Bicycling (more than 10 mph) 295

Adapted from Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005.
*Average calories burned for a person who weighs 154 lbs. If you weigh more, you will burn more calories. If you weigh less, you will burn fewer calories.

Lifestyle

You may have to alter your schedule to make changes to your diet and exercise. This could mean waking up early to work out or packing your lunch so you don’t eat fast food. Along with diet and exercise, you should make other lifestyle changes. Getting enough sleep can help you lose weight. Sleep affects your body’s hormones. This includes the hormones that tell your body if it is hungry or full. You also should try to reduce your stress level. A lot of people relate stress to weight gain.

Things to consider

When you start a weight loss plan, there are things to keep in mind. You may have an obstacle that makes it hard to lose weight. Or it could have lead to weight gain in the first place. You also need to be careful of where you get advice. Your weight loss plan should be safe and successful.

Obstacles

Most people who are trying to lose weight have one or more obstacles. You could have bad habits that started at a young age. Habits are hard to break, but they are possible. Your doctor can help you make changes, one step at a time.

For other people, weight gain can be related to genetics. You may have a health condition that makes it hard to lose weight. Examples of this include:

  • Hormonal disorders
    • Cushing’s disease
    • Diabetes
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Cardiovascular diseases
    • Congestive heart disease
    • Heart valve disorder
    • Idiopathic hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Sleep disorders
    • Obstructive sleep apnea
    • Upper airway respiratory syndrome
  • Eating disorders
    • Bulimia
    • Carbohydrate craving syndrome.

Certain medicines also can interfere with your weight loss efforts. This includes:

  • antihistamines for allergies
  • alpha or beta blockers for high blood pressure
  • insulin or sulfonylureas for diabetes
  • progestins for birth control
  • tricyclic antidepressants for depression
  • lithium for manic depression
  • valproate for epilepsy
  • neuroleptics for schizophrenia.

Talk to your doctor about how to manage your weight despite these obstacles. Lifestyle changes, treatment, or surgery can help. You also may benefit from a support group or counseling.

Diet pills, supplements, and fad diets

Some companies and people claim diet pills make you lose weight. This may be true at first, but pills don’t help you keep the weight off. They don’t teach you how to make the necessary lifestyle changes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not test most diet pills. Many of them can have harmful side effects. Talk to your doctor if you think you need a supplement. They can recommend one that doesn’t interact with your medicines or conditions.

Fad diets also are not proven to be safe or help you lose weight. They often offer short-term changes, but don’t help you keep the weight off. People who promote fad diets are famous or get paid to make claims. This does not make them correct or trustworthy.

There is no one magic diet that helps every person lose weight. The idea of “going on a diet” implies that you will “go off the diet” one day. Do not rely on a fad diet to do the work for you. Instead, find a healthy, balanced eating plan that can become a practical lifestyle.

Weight-loss management

There are tools you can use throughout your weight loss plan. They help to track your progress and reach your goals. These include:

  • a pedometer to count your steps
  • a food diary, or journal
  • smartphone apps to record diet and exercise
  • a measuring tape or scale
  • a BMI calculator.

Continue to check in with your doctor while on your weight loss plan. Remember to think about the big picture. Setbacks are bound to happen, but you should concentrate on the small goals and changes. These are what will get you to the finish line.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • Are there any risks to a weight loss plan?
  • What weight loss goals should I make?
  • What BMI should I aim for?
  • What happens if I lose more than the recommended 2 lbs. per week?
  • What should I do if I have a food craving?
  • Should I take any supplements as part of my weight loss plan?
  • Can you recommend a dietician?
  • Can you suggest a support group for people who are losing weight?
  • Once I meet my weight loss goals, how do I maintain my weight?

Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians, Food Habits Survey

American Academy of Family Physicians, Nutrition for Weight Loss

American Academy of Family Physicians, Nutrition: How to Make Healthier Food Choices

American Academy of Family Physicians, Nutrition: Keeping a Food Diary

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Adult BMI

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Losing Weight

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Choosing a Safe and Successful Weight-loss Program

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), ChooseMyPlate.gov

21see Video Network

If visions of sugarplums are still dancing in your head after the holidays, it’s time to get real. We all know what happens when we overindulge in Hanukkah sufganiyot or Christmas fruitcake, and it’s not a pretty picture.

After one too many cups of eggnog or a mountain of sour cream and latkes, we resolve to slim down in the new year. Again.

How can you make your weight-loss plan more successful this time around? We reviewed Israeli research and found these suggestions for effective dieting.

  1. Time meals to lose weight

Have meals at set times,eating more in the morning and less in the evening.

That routine resets your circadian clock and results in better health and weight loss no matter how many total calories you consume, according to Prof. Oren Froy, director of the Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“The timing of food intake is extremely important,” says Froy.

His studies have shown that the identical meal can make you gain or lose weight depending on when you eat it.

  1. Have a big breakfast

A big breakfast at a restaurant in Tel Aviv. Photo by

A high-calorie breakfast synchronizes your circadian clock, while skipping breakfast disturbs your rhythm and can cause weight gain, says Froy.

Furthermore, a big breakfast and small dinner effectively reduces insulin resistance– a factor in type 2 diabetes.

And finally, research Froy did with colleagues at Tel Aviv University suggests that a hearty protein-rich breakfast (even with a small piece of cake for dessert!) increases metabolism and decreases hunger throughout the day.

  1. Follow a Mediterranean diet

Illustration from the study “The beneficial effects of Mediterranean diet over low-fat diet may be mediated by decreasing hepatic fat content” in the Journal of Hepatology.

A major multinational study led by Ben-Gurion University Prof. Iris Shai used unique methods to measure and map the effects of different diets on body-fat deposits in 278 overweight people over 18 months.

Comparing the results of subjects who reduced calorie intake through a low-carb Mediterranean diet or a low-fat diet, they saw that both groups lost a moderate amount of weight – especially those who also were put on a moderate exercise regimen.

However, test subjects on a Mediterranean diet emphasizing vegetables, nuts, legumes, olive oil and moderate amounts of fish and poultry showed more significant reductions in measurable risk of heart disease.

Shai said that’s because a low-carb Mediterranean diet is more effective than other low-fat diets in reducing hepatic (liver) fat and some of the body’s other fatpools.

  1. Don’t depend on a small plate to eat less

Small plates don’t help you control portion size. Photo by

The popular trick of using smaller plates to help you control food portions doesn’t actually work, according to a study led by Dr. Tzvi Ganel, head of the Laboratory for Visual Perception and Action at Ben-Gurion University.

“Even if you’re hungry and haven’t eaten, or are trying to cut back on portions, a serving looks similar whether it fills a smaller plate or is surrounded by empty space on a larger one,” said Ganel.

“Over the last decade, restaurants and other food businesses have been using progressively smaller dishes to conform to the perceptual bias that it will reduce food consumption,” says Ganel.

“This study debunks that notion. When people are hungry, especially when dieting, they are less likely to be fooled by the plate size, more likely to realize they are eating less and more prone to overeating later.”

  1. Determine which foods make your blood sugar spike

If you and your friend eat an identical meal, each person’s blood-sugar level will react differently because everyone’s gut microbiome is unique.

That was the conclusion of the groundbreaking Personalized Nutrition Project pioneered by Weizmann Institute of Science professors Eran Elinav and Eran Segal in 2015.

“This was a big paradigm shift,” Elinav tells ISRAEL21c. “Diet advice used to be based on quantifying or grading food to determine which is good and which is not. We showed that rather than scoring food we should score people because people react uniquely.”

The Elinav and Segal labs developed algorithms to quantify the gut microbiome and apply machine learning to predict what food spikes blood sugar for each individual.

The Israeli-American company DayTwo used these findings to develop personalized microbiome analysis enabling users to choose, log, and track foods that best balance their blood sugar.

  1. Carrots over candy

There’s no way round it, vegetables are best. Photo by

Israeli research has shown that no matter which diet you choose to follow, the simplest recipe for success is increasing your consumption of vegetables and decreasing your consumption of sugary foods.

  1. If you go off your diet, don’t give up

The food we eat has a cumulative effect, so a day of eating the “wrong” things doesn’t mean you should give up on your healthy diet.

Ben-Gurion University researchers found that most people achieve the greatest weight loss in the first six months of a diet plan. However, the health benefits – including reversal of hardening of the arteries — continued for years after weight loss leveled off.

If you’re getting proper nutrition most of the time, your body will be flexible enough to withstand the effects of that occasional binge we tend to do during holiday times.

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A post shared by Lauren Cadillac, RD, CLT, CPT (@feelgooddietitian) on Nov 29, 2019 at 12:37pm PST

Finding a diet that works for you is hard, to say the least. And so many of them tout amazing results in a short amount of time that — news flash! — aren’t sustainable longterm and aren’t realistic for every body type. If going keto works for you, great! But know that some people find staying in ketosis too difficult (and there are a slew of pretty nasty side effects, too). Have you found success with intermittent fasting? Props to you! A registered dietitian does warn against trying it if you’re a diabetic, though. For every success story, there’s someone who didn’t get the outcome that they thought they would, or someone who can’t maintain that diet for health reasons.

Registered dietitian Lauren Cadillac, RD, CLT, knows what experimenting with diet after diet is like. She told POPSUGAR that since she was 16 years old, she’s tried “basically everything under the sun.” That included “the cookie diet, the master cleanse, paleo, keto, intermittent fasting, flexible dieting (‘If It Fits Your Macros’), and eventually a bodybuilding diet.”

Lauren, who calls herself the “Feel Good Dietitian,” recently posted a checklist on Instagram she wants people to go through before diving into a weight-loss diet. ⁣⁣”When seeking out a diet to lose weight, if you answer NO to any of the purple (left) questions or YES to any of the blue (right) questions, I’d suggest you skip it,” she wrote in the caption. Essentially, if the diet doesn’t bring you joy, isn’t sustainable, doesn’t improve your qualify of life, or strays from your beliefs, Lauren thinks you should opt out. If the diet has a restrictive list of what not to eat, interferes with your social life, is endorsed by celebrities (and seems gimmicky), or guarantees drastic results in a short time frame, she advises to steer clear. See that full checklist above.

“Diets take up a lot of mental real estate, can cause stress, limit you from enjoying foods you truly love, and can interfere with your social life and personal relationships.” ADVERTISEMENT

“It’s not that a specific diet will immediately bring you great joy; rather, it’s more of a question of if the diet will steal it from you,” Lauren explained. “Diets take up a lot of mental real estate, can cause stress, limit you from enjoying foods you truly love, and can interfere with your social life and personal relationships, all of which equal less joy.”

Lauren said she didn’t go to the beach for two Summers in a row because packing the right food was too stressful. “I couldn’t go out to dinner with friends, and I was always hungry and therefore miserable to be around. A lot of my relationships suffered because of my dieting.” Everyone is different, and diets may work for you, but Lauren said it got so bad that she developed an eating disorder — and she’s not alone on that front.

Sustainability is another important factor. Lauren believes that if you don’t see yourself being able to maintain the diet longterm, you’re at risk of gaining weight back. Though there are ways you can maintain your weight loss after the fact, she pointed to research suggesting that 95 percent of diets fail within five years, meaning the individual regains the weight they lost within that time. (Note: as this article from Vox explains, studies also show that outside factors can play a role in the success of a diet.)

“In fact, two-thirds of people will regain back more weight than they lost in the first place,” Lauren said. She explained, “Our bodies see dieting as a famine, and in order to save us from this famine, a survival mechanism kicks in leading to a slowed metabolism, increased enzymes that store fat, decreased muscle mass as your body cannibalizes it for energy, and a shift in fat storage.” You can read more about regaining weight post-diet here.

Lauren is a big fan of intuitive eating and listening to hunger-fullness cues, which she’s spoken to POPSUGAR about in the past. As she wrote in a blog post from earlier this year, “To simplify it into one sentence: eat the things that make you feel good (energy, mood, digestion, sleep, strength) and that you enjoy.” Plus, she discusses more about the negative effects of yo-yo dieting here.

Bottom line? Lauren wants you to consider the points above before you start a diet. She also noted that if you have food allergies or a serious medical condition that requires you to eliminate specific foods (gluten for those with Celiac disease, for example), “by all means do so, but consult a dietitian first.” It’s ultimately up to you; however, there definitely are important questions you should be asking yourself beforehand, and consulting with a doctor is always a smart idea.

Starting a new diet

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