A New Year brings a fresh start. A chance to take a step back, review the previous year, and set goals for what you’d like to change or accomplish in the year ahead.
New Year’s resolutions are notorious for maybe lasting a few weeks, and then being forgotten when the excitement of the new year wears off. What if you could set resolutions that last throughout the year? And actually succeed in reaching them? Let’s talk about how to set realistic resolutions that will help you SUCCEED for the long haul.
- The first step to making resolutions that last is to avoid general, overwhelming goals. For example, “I will lose weight this year” sets no specific steps to GET you there. Instead, focus on making goals that address the actual behaviors or actions that will then result in weight loss. For example, “I will exercise at least 2 days per week.” This is a specific goal that focuses on a healthy behavior, rather than just a general, overarching idea.
- The second is to make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T. — That is, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Measured. So instead of saying “I will eat better this new year” focus on getting specific, and set measurable parameters. A better goal would be, “I will increase my fruit and vegetable consumption to at least a minimum of 5 servings daily.” or “I will exercise for at least 30 minutes, 3 days per week.”
- Track your progress. In two weeks, if you were unable to meet your exercise goal, that’s okay! Just take the time to look back and see what your barriers were – did you not schedule them ahead of time? Were you tired at the end of the day? Did you simply forget? See what stopped you from reaching your goal in the first place – then reassess and set a new one. Did working out at night not happen because you were exhausted after work? Then aim to schedule morning workouts to get them done first thing! See how you can set yourself up for success and even better – track your progress along the way by monitoring it in an app, having sticky notes on the fridge, or keeping a notebook. Find what works for YOU.
- Avoid the all-or-nothing approach and focus on healthy lifestyle changes. Oftentimes, when we get frustrated, it’s natural to want to go all out and declare that we are “never eating sugar again!” or will “lose 30 pounds in 2 months!” Avoid the all-or-nothing approach, as this almost NEVER works. You need to find sustainability in your goals – look at where you are at first. What’s hindering your progress? Are you snacking on too much sugary foods? Start by decreasing the overall amount, not cutting them out completely. For example, if you are eating a dessert or piece of candy at least daily, try decreasing to just 3 days per week. Once you get used to that, then you can decrease even more. But if you try to cut it out completely, once you slip up (which will likely happen, because that’s an overwhelming goal and we are human!) you’re more likely to then throw in the towel, feel guilty, and give up completely. Set small mini goals to get to that one big overwhelming goal you’d like to achieve. There’s always going to be bumps in the road along the way towards a healthy lifestyle, but that’s all it is – a bump in the road. Keep on going!
- Find reasons or motivations to change other than aesthetics. If you want to workout or eat better to look good, that’s great, but if that is your sole motivation for getting healthy you will fail in the long run. Find the deeper why – are you tired and want to gain more energy? Do you fear missing out on your future kids’ or grandkids’ lives? Do you want to perform better at work? Want better sleep? Want to reduce your medications? Find the deeper motivations, and your goals are more likely to stick for the long haul.
And of course, meeting regularly with your Registered Dietitian helps gear you up for success. Let us help you this new year by meeting with one of our RDs for personalized nutrition counseling!