South Charlotte

For weight loss, 1st month can be hardest

Belinda Cobb is a woman on a mission.

She bravely made a New Year’s resolution to recommit to losing 50 pounds. Of those who want to get back into those skinny jeans this year, most already have fallen off the wagon.

Cobb is defying the statistics. The Sardis Forest resident, a married empty-nester, stays busy volunteering at the Matthews Help Center, where she is team leader for the Bounce Back Backpack program for Matthews and Greenway Park Elementary Schools.

Cobb decided that, at age 50, it was time to do something about her weight and general health, after landing in the emergency room last year with high blood pressure and chest pains.

Statistics show the No. 1 New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. According to the Huffington Post, that goal accounts for 38 percent of all resolutions. Of the 45 percent of Americans who make resolutions each year, only 8 percent make their goal.

Cobb joined Weight Watchers and regularly attends meetings at the Sycamore Commons Shopping Center in Matthews.

One thing that has helped her maintain her resolve, she said, is following a program with a like-minded, motivated group; the other is setting visual cues to keep her on track.

“I keep my weight-loss program at the forefront in my mind,” said Cobb. “I took two jars and put 50 clear marbles – what I want to lose – in one jar. As I lose pounds, I put clear marbles in the other one. If I gain weight, I add black marbles. This way I can actually see how I’m doing. I love thinking of new ways to keep my progress right in front of me.”

Dr. Nyaka Niilampti, assistant professor of psychology at Queens University of Charlotte, has a sports psychology background and serves as a faculty athletic representative.

“I am always interested in how people set and achieve their goals, both in sport and in larger areas of life” Niilampti said. “A New Year’s resolution is definitely an example of one such goal.”

Surveys show that weight-loss resolvers want to look better, alleviate the stigma of being overweight and feel “normal” again. Niilampti said that, “With a media culture that popularized ‘thinness’ and a technology-driven culture that keeps us sitting down longer than we may have in the past … it’s easy to keep weight (and other appearance-related issues) on the forefront.”

Niilampti suggests several things that can help with a weight-loss resolution, and social support is one of them.

Others include becoming aware of eating and exercise patterns, particularly as they connect to stress and emotions, she said. Niilampti referred to this as “mindful eating.”

“One of the things we know is that diets don’t really work,” Niilampti said. “For most people, once they resume former eating habits, the weight comes back. Cognitive restructuring, or working to alter your thoughts about food, has been found to help contribute to changes in eating.”

Cobb says the support of her husband, James, has been an important part of her success. She does all the cooking and food-portion control in their house, and says he doesn’t even realize he’s also benefiting from the Weight Watchers program.

Above all, she says, her devout spirituality has been a major source of support.

“Find a buddy, someone to encourage you in your weigh loss,” Cobb said. She suggests using social media and supplementing moments of weakness with visuals to keep from giving up.

“Try using a ‘before’ picture to help you remember where you began, or pull out those ‘fat’ jeans to look at occasionally,” she said.

If this is the year you’ve made it past the first month, you’ve already beat the odds.

If you didn’t make it, don’t worry; there’s always next year.