01/25/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Losing Weight, But Not as New Year's Resolution

If you want to lose weight, do not make a New Year's Resolution to do so. Why, you might ask, would an eating disorder therapist, specializing in compulsive overeating, say such a thing? Well, I'll tell you why.

Making a New Year's Resolution to lose weight is like saying I'm going to go on a diet starting Monday. Let's say it is Friday when you make this decision. You might even tell people who are with you that you are planning to start a new diet on Monday. What you are really doing, and saying, is that you give yourself permission to eat as much as you want until Monday. If you make a New Year's Resolution to go on a diet, days or weeks before January 1st, you are really saying that you give yourself permission to pig out until then. This isn't a good strategy. It is actually a form of binging and purging.

For those of us who have tried this, and pigged out for days prior to the diet, we know that we aren't always successful at starting that diet on Monday, or January 1st. We may start off with good intentions, but often we get derailed sooner rather than later. Sometimes it's even sooner than it takes to undo the damage of pigging out for days. Something may come up that Monday that prevents you from starting that diet and January 1st is still a holiday, so, well, why not just start on January 2ond. This year, January 2ond falls on a Friday, so now it's the weekend and well, hell, I'll just start Monday. So you see, this is not a good strategy.

If you really want to lose weight, you need to start right now, this minute, and not later today, tomorrow, Monday, or next year. In order to lose weight you need to take in less calories than you burn. To do this you need to keep track of what you eat, how much and how many calories you are taking in. To be the weight you want to be, take that weight and multiply it by 10 for women, 12 for men. That is the number of calories you can eat, without exercise, to maintain that weight. You don't need to go on a diet, eat only protein, hire a personal chef, become a vegan, go on a cleanse, or anything of the kind. Simply take in less than you burn and you will lose weight.

That's if for now. Good luck and let me know how you're doing.

If you'd like to participate in the research for Irene's new book on the process of weight loss, please visit and take the survey.