Posted 3 weeks ago
Make Your New Year’s Resolution Last
It’s that time of year again when we set our New Year’s resolutions to change our lifestyle for the better. It is not uncommon that our goal is to improve our health and fitness this New Year. Once January 1st rolls around, we start seeing new gym specials or discounted diet plans. According to Forbes magazine, studies have shown that less than 25% of people stay committed to their goal by the end of January, and less than 8% accomplish them. You may be wondering how to become a part of that 8%. Here are some tips for planning your 2021 New Year’s resolution.
Set SMART goals:
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound. Instead of saying, “I will go to the gym every day this year,” try setting a SMART goal such as “I will go to the gym at least 3 days per week for 3 months”. This smart goal will give you a reasonable goal to achieve. It may not be realistic to set a goal to go to the gym daily if this is not something you are used to doing. By setting a realistic goal, you will avoid the guilt of missing a day or two in one week because life happened.
Setting a time-bound goal will allow you to see your goal through and bring you more success. Once you achieve your first time-bound goal of 3 months, then you can write a new goal such as “I will go to the gym for at least 4 days per week for the next 3 months”. By the end of the year, you may have successfully completed your New Year’s Resolution of being more active.
Don’t set an “exclusive” goal:
It may be tempting to start your New Year by saying you will not eat any sugary foods and dessert this year. This is not a realistic goal. The truth is that there is always a time and place for specific foods in our diet. Could you imagine saying, “No, I can’t have a piece of my birthday cake because my New Year’s resolution was to stop eating sugar”? Most likely, these foods will make it into our diet, and that is okay! Enjoy your cake and move on. By avoiding specific foods or food groups, we tend to overeat them later on.
Often we also have an “all or nothing” attitude. Think of a time you were dieting, and something on your “avoid” list was available, so you ate it. Did you have a bite and continue with your diet the next meal, or did you eat a large portion, feel guilty, and say, “well, my diet is ruined for the weekend, so I will just start again on Monday” and eat poorly for a few days? Avoid feelings of guilt this year and do not set an “exclusive” goal.
Set an “inclusive” goal:
We know that trying to avoid our favorite foods will likely lead to a new year’s resolution failure. Instead of listing foods to avoid this year, try setting a goal to include more healthful foods. Many of us fail to meet the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. If you are looking to start a healthy diet, try setting a goal to include a specific amount of fruits and vegetables per day. The recommended daily servings of fruit per day are 2-3, and for vegetables is 4-5.
This may not be realistic if you are used to only eating one serving of fruit per day. Try setting a goal such as “I will include a serving of vegetables with 2 meals and 1 snack per day for 3 months”. As you complete your first goal, increase your goal number of servings per day. By the end of the year, you will have successfully consumed a more healthful diet.
Avoid the weight-loss resolution.
Don’t let the number on the scale be the judge of your success this year. It is often disheartening to look down at the scale to see the numbers haven’t budged even after adding another workout class one week. Focusing only on weight loss can lead to poor body image, emotional upset, and discouragement even if we have other successful measures we aren’t paying attention to. This year focus on healthy behaviors such as including more fruits and vegetables, being active, or getting more sleep rather than the number of the scale.
Put your resolution in writing.
Rather than just telling your family and friends your resolution this year, write it down! Keep in a place where you will see it daily and be reminded of your goal. Writing down our goals can help increase our chance to accomplish them. Include a written plan with your goal- how do you plan to achieve your goal? What will you do if a “roadblock” occurs?
If your goal is to increase your activity, try including a plan by looking up classes offered at your gym for the week and writing down the class you will attend on your schedule. If your goal is to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, try writing down a plan to look up, print off, and cook one new recipe per week. Have your recipe planned for a specific day, the ingredients in your fridge, and the recipe hung up in the kitchen.
Remember, it is unnecessary to set a New Year’s resolution if you do not want to or if it will lead to stress and disappointment. The New Year is not the only time to start a new goal or improve your lifestyle. This can occur at any time of the year!
Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year!
Kara Biber is a Registered Dietitian who received her Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Nutrition from Arizona State University and Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Kinesiology from the University of Maine. She completed her dietetic internship at Murray State University in Paducah, Kentucky, and will complete her Master’s of Science Degree in Nutrition from Murray State University in 2021.
Kara has been working as a clinical dietitian in the acute care setting over the past 3 years. Her passion and desire to work with cancer patients have been inspired by her family and friends who have been affected by cancer. Kara is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a member of the Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group.
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