Ditch the New Year's diet

Expert says 'change your lifestyle' instead

DETROIT – It's been about a year since Local 4 editor Vanessa Ogletree decided to make a lifestyle change.

For her, the motivation was health.

"I was prediabetic. Didn't want to become diabetic, didn't want to take medication," Ogletree said.  "My doctor said, 'Then you have to change the way you live, the way you eat. You've got to make sure you work out.'"

There's a reason an estimated 95 percent of diets ultimately fail. The changes are so dramatic, they're just not sustainable. Instead of a quick fix, lifestyle experts urge you to think about changes that can last a lifetime.

As Ogletree discovered, finding that long-term motivation is essential, whether it's better health, living longer for your family or maintaining your independence.

Seeking out support is also important.

"I went through a program with the Diabetes Foundation," Ogletree said. "It was a slow, like maybe a pound or half a pound a week loss."

Ogletree focuses on moderation, not deprivation. One of the biggest changes?

"Every single morning for 30 minutes, I work out. Five days a week. To make sure I do it in the morning because for me, that's what works," Ogletree said.

She has also altered her diet.

"Really ramping up the vegetables. For dinner, instead of eating you know beef and some little side dish, I eat a whole plate of vegetables and not as much meat as I used too," Ogletree said.

They're changes that work, said Dr. Rachel Franklin, a family medicine physician.

"What really works is adopting something that you can stick with that will keep you healthy for a long time," said Franklin.

Ogletree agrees.  

"It has to be a lifestyle. It's something that you just work into your life. It's a way of living.  It's not something that someone has created for you. It's something that you discover, 'Hey this works for me, so let me just make a habit of it.'"

To get started, Franklin recommends making gradual changes, replacing unhealthy habits one at a time. It may seem obvious, but be sure you're eating food you actually like to eat. Salad is not the only road to better health.

Remember, you can still overeat on healthy food, so try the rule of eating until you feel 80 percent full, then stop. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to send the message to your brain that you're full.

We asked Ogletree is there was anything she just wouldn't give up. She said she was prepared to give up her afternoon Coca-Cola, but thanks to the other changes she made, she found it wasn't necessary, so she still enjoys that treat.

After a year of slowly changing her lifestyle, Ogletree is reaping the rewards.

"I've lost 30 pounds. I feel fantastic. I can move, I can go upstairs without the heavy breathing and needing to stop," Ogletree said.  "I'm more clear with my thoughts. Better mood. Happier."

They're changes she wants to hold onto.

"I want to keep this feeling that I have going now," Ogletree said. "I don't want to go back to the way I used to feel."

To learn more about the Diabetes Prevention Program, click here.