Holidays have come and gone, the kids are back in school, schedules have resumed and it’s the perfect time of year to start fresh with better habits. Many of us forgo the concept of New Year’s Resolutions as we often view them as an excuse to set fleeting goals that for a variety of reasons end up on the back burner as soon as the year picks up.
As a dietitian I’ve helped many people work towards goals and resolutions to lose weight and improve their health. There are several key elements that I have found help people be successful with how to get healthy and make changes to turn New Year’s Resolutions into Lifestyle Revolutions.
- Don’t Do It Alone. Many people describe their families or co-workers as either their biggest barrier or supporters for making lifestyle changes. Consider how you can involve your family in eating healthier or exercising. Perhaps they can help you pick out a new healthy recipe to try or choose an evening each week for family walks. It will be easier for you to stay on board with changes when you have your family’s support and accountability. Cooking separate dinners for one family just won’t last and besides eating healthier or exercising isn’t just good for you, it can benefit the whole family. Can’t get the family on board or need additional support? Explore co-workers and friends that can share support, whether as a work out buddy or just as an encourager, a little goes a long way.
- Forget the Numbers and Ditch the Diet. Shifting your goals from dieting to lose 20lbs to improving your health can be much more motivating and rewarding. Eating a healthier diet and being more active can help you lose pounds but it also helps keeps blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol numbers in check. Beyond that healthier habits can improve your mood and energy level. It has also been shown to prevent illness and even reduce your risk for certain cancers! Instead of dreading dieting and obsessing over numbers this year build a healthier relationship with food by allowing foods to nourish your mind and body.
- Set Small Goals. Not much for resolutions? Consider setting small attainable goals for yourself. If you want to lose 20 pounds this year think about what needs to change to make that goal attainable. Maybe you need to start walking 2-3 times per week and eat 2-3 more servings of vegetables each week. Consider where you are now and where you want to be, what smalls steps can you take to get you there?
- Plan Ahead. We cannot expect healthy choices to fall into our laps. In our world today, unhealthy options are everywhere we look. Making a plan not only set yourself up for success but also holds you accountable your commitment to make better choices. Taking time on the front end to plan meals, grocery shop, pack lunches and bring your gym bag to work will save you time (and sometimes money) in the long run.
- Break Through Barriers. Sometimes life comes at us pretty quickly. Work schedule changes, new babies, new jobs, new homes, illness or death of a loved one, holidays, and even the weather can throw us off track and out of our routines. This is often why resolutions fail. We start off well in January then as soon as t-ball starts in the spring we can’t adjust. Think ahead for challenges to come. You may need to change the time of day you exercise, get a gym membership or do more meal prep on the weekends or enlist in more support.
- Embrace a Lifestyle Change. If you want to go on 30-day diet expect your results to last the same amount of time. Long term results always require long term commitments. You can only expect to improve to amount you are willing to change.
Making a commitment to a healthier lifestyle takes some thought and planning, but I’m convinced the benefits definitely make it worth it. What needs to change about your game plan to help you have a happier healthier new year?