Did you make a New Year’s resolution to be healthier, to lose weight or to change your diet? If you saw our previous post on 10 Healthy New Years Resolutions, you may have gotten some good ideas to kick off your New Year in a healthy way. Many of us charge into the new year with ambitious goals to change our lifestyles; in fact almost 50% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but less than 8% are actually successful keeping them longer than a month. Now that’s a bleak statistic! But fear not, below are some tips to help you harness that enthusiasm and help you succeed in 2015!
- Make one or two specific goals. If your resolution is to eat healthier, begin by making one or two changes in your diet at a time, not by eliminating all unhealthy foods. You could choose to eat less simple sugar or to eat more vegetables. Then commit to your goals and make a plan to reach those goals.
- Orient your goals around adding something positive rather than eliminating a negative. For instance, choose eating more vegetables vs eliminating soda. Over time, these additions will leave less room for unhealthy habits and it is a more positive approach.
- Make sure your resolution is something you can incorporate into your daily life. Ask yourself “If I make this change in my eating, can I continue to do this the rest of my life and be happy?” A resolution is bound to fail if it isn’t something you can actually live with and enjoy!
If you fail to plan, plan to fail!
- Once you have a goal, figure out how to put it into action. Ask yourself these questions: What is my first step? How long will it take? Who can help me? Think about your immediate, intermediate and long-term goals: what you would like to achieve in 1, 3 and 6 months.
- Plan rewards for yourself when you have met these step-by-step goals.
- Be specific. Resolving to “lose weight” is too general and can be difficult to stick to. Instead, think about what you could do differently at each eating occasion. What are foods to increase or decrease could help you reach your goal? Could I be more mindful when eating? Choose one or two specific behaviors such as eating more meals at home, adding protein to breakfast or eating healthier snacks.
- Be informed. Similar to being specific, make a goal that you truly understand. If you don’t know if a change is really healthy or not do a little research and make sure it’s the right goal for you. You don’t have to understand everything about it, but just have a general idea of how it will benefit you – after all, it’s hard to be motivated if there’s any confusion or ambiguity about why you’re doing it.
SUPPORT, ACCOUNTABILITY AND MOTIVATION
- Surround yourself with people who will support your healthy choices.
- Write down your goals and post them on your fridge or on your phone so you can keep in mind what you set out to do. Keeping a daily diary of what you eat is a tool that can help you be mindful of what you eat.
- List your motivating factors for keeping your resolutions. Why do you want to make changes? To feel better, be healthier, not develop a chronic illness, to have more energy to travel, to play, to work?
- Don’t use fear and guilt as motivators. This one is important! Forgive yourself if you transgress and return to your resolve. Guilt leads to giving up. The solution to this situation is self-compassion. If you forgive yourself you are less likely to make it worse.
- Make better day-to-day decisions by putting things in proper perspective. Psychologists talk about “framing”. Narrow framing means you tell yourself that today, just eating one candy bar won’t be all that bad. But if you use broad framing, you tell yourself that if you keep eating a candy bar a day, you’ll be eating more than one hundred pounds of candy bars during the year, and by the end of the year, you’ll be ten pounds heavier as a result. As you think about eating that one bar, put an image in your mind of what you’ll look like after eating one a day for a year!
Sticking to your New Year’s resolution all year long is about making small, sustainable habit changes for a healthier you. By personalizing your goals, you’ll be more successful with your resolutions. Remember to adopt only changes you can live with, surround yourself with supportive people and to forgive yourself for slips, and you’ll be flying through the year with success, health and confidence.