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Helpful Ways to Keep Your Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

The new year typically brings resolutions centered around health improvement, with the most popular resolution relating to weight loss. Common resolutions tend to include losing weight, eating healthier and increasing exercise. However, it is just as common for people to have trouble sticking with their resolutions. This complication can lead to self-doubt or self-reproach. The following tips can help you stay on track all year to, increasing your self-esteem, self-acceptance and self-love.

1. Turn Your New Year's Resolution Into Small Goals

You are more likely to keep any changes you implement in your life if you are seeing progress. One way to help you stay on track is by breaking your goal into small successes that will help you reach your goal.

How to Make a Weight Loss Goal More Attainable

Say you want to lose 30 lbs this year. Making small goals for each month that promote the larger goal will provide you with the building blocks you need to persist on your health journey. For example:

  • Your January goal can be to start walking three times each week. 
  • Your February goal can be to not eat anymore drive thru foods. 
  • Your March goal can be to learn how to make five healthy recipes at home
  • For April, aim to start running for one mile at a time, for a desired number of days each week. 
  • May is the month that you give your pantry and fridge a makeover so you have room for healthier options, and so on.

If you start with a small, obtainable goal you will not only be more motivated by your success, but you are more likely to stay on track and be able to reach your goal. This plan is also more reasonable than trying to change your fitness routine and overhaul your eating all at once, which is likely going to leave you feeling overwhelmed or frustrated and possibly making you want to quit altogether. Turning your resolution into “making 12 healthy changes this year to help me lose 30 lbs” is much healthier approach for your mind and body.

2. Reevaluate Your New Year's Resolution

Is your weight loss goal realistic? Is your resolution something you’ve attempted in the past without success? Is it a complete 180 turn from your current behavior?

As mentioned above, trying to make drastic life changes can be overwhelming ang leave you feeling like a failure if you do not achieve your goal. Making your resolution to reduce eating out to once a week is not realistic if you currently eat out 10 times each week. Resolving to cook dinner at home four nights a week is much more achievable and is a healthy habit that can have a positive impact on your health journey. Preparing food at home can be a more nutritious alternative than eating convenience or fast foods. Cooking at home may also provide you with leftovers for a healthy packed lunch for work or school. If you currently do not exercise, but your resolution is to run a marathon, make sure it is a realistic expectation of your body. Instead, committing to start running this year, which includes building up your stamina to begin training for that marathon.

3. Plan for Your Success

Have you thought of how you are going to keep your resolution? What tools do you need in order to be successful? Did you have the same tools last year? If you did, why were you unable to reach your goal?

Simply having a gym membership is not a guarantee that you will go workout. Buying healthy foods does necessarily not mean you will eat them. If you find yourself buying a gym membership at the beginning of every year but cancel it before spring, maybe you are not a gym person. Instead, explore other routes you have not tried. A workout-from-home fitness app, or a new physical activity like yoga or cycling, may help you find what you enjoy so that you look forward to participating. Purchasing a treadmill to have at home might be a better investment in the long run if you find yourself doubting you will be able to squeeze in a regular work out at the gym based on your schedule.

4. Check In Often On Your Progress

Make a plan to evaluate your progress, either at the beginning of the month or even every quarter. The year can absolutely fly by and before you know it, it is half over. It is normal to feel frustrated or defeated if you have not progressed toward your goal, leaving you to want to give up. Breaking the year down into smaller pieces can keep you from feeling overwhelmed and allow you a chance to reflect on the progress you’ve been able to make or face the barriers you have encountered. Instead of simply giving up, allowing yourself checkpoints throughout the year gives you an opportunity to get yourself back on track.

5. Change It Up If It's Not Working

If you find yourself checking in and feeling less than optimistic about your progress or ability to continue on your health journey, change up your resolution. Maybe running isn’t for you so you have found yourself doing it less and less. Explore other forms of physical activity until you find something that makes you happy. If you are struggling with preparing healthy meals for yourself, sign up for a healthy cooking class to learn new preparation techniques and discover new ingredients. Or if you feel that you have stood by your resolution, but still do not feel as positive about yourself if you thought, feel free to completely change it up. If you are now eating healthy, resolve to start biking twice a week. If you have starting running but are disappointed that you have not seen any weight loss, resolve to change it up by adding strength training to your regimen.

Remember that it doesn’t have to be a New Year’s resolution, you can make a New You resolution anytime of the year!

Robin Duhon, RD, LD, LMNT
Robin Duhon, RD, LD, LMNT

Robin Duhon MPPH, RD, LD, LMNT is a registered dietitian for CHI Health Weight Management

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