Five Ways to Crush Your New Year’s Resolutions
As we near the end of 2020, what’s at the top of your New Year’s resolution list? If it’s improving your health and relationship with food, 2021 can be your turning point!
Here are five tips to help you stay on track:
1. Transform your weight loss resolution into SMART goals
SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
SPECIFIC: Instead of saying, “I want to walk more this year,” state exactly how many minutes you plan to walk, where you plan to walk, and which days of the week you’ll do so. Then schedule these activities the same way you would an important meeting.
MEASUREABLE: A goal like, “I’ll eat more vegetables” can be made measurable simply by being more specific. For instance, “I will have one vegetable snack between lunch and dinner at least four times per week.”
ACHIEVABLE: Focus on behaviors you can control. "I will lose 2 pounds this week" is unrealistic, because you cannot regulate how much fluid your body holds onto or how fast your body burns fat. Commit to an action you can control, such as drinking only water for a week in lieu of sugar-sweetened beverages.
REALISTIC: Your goals should be challenging but not unachievable. For instance, if you have bad knees, training for a marathon just isn’t in the cards. Devote yourself to something you can realistically achieve in order to stay honest with yourself and build confidence.
TIME-BOUND: It’s easy to say, “I want to lose 20 pounds.” But when you’re faced with an unopened bag of BBQ chips at 9pm, it’s also easy to say, “I’ll be better tomorrow.” If you set a date by which you want to lose an amount of weight, it will help you stay focused and serious about your goal.
2. Outline your plan
More planning now will build better self-control in the future. Think through challenges that might arise as you’re working toward your goals. Decide how you will deal with the temptation to skip an exercise class or have a second cocktail. Will you call a friend for help? Practice positive self talk? Remove yourself from the situation? Determine what would work best for you.
3. Find accountability
Share your goals with your most loving supporters, so they’ll be there to hold you accountable. Having some external pressure to stay on track can be a powerful incentive to keep going.
4. Track your progress
Every step in your weight loss plan adds up to what you ultimately want to achieve. You may not always think you’re making progress, but when you see it on paper, it’s easier to recognize how far you've come. Do yourself a favor by keeping a food journal and recording your weight at least once a week.
5. Reward yourself
When you accomplish a goal (no matter how small), your belief in your own abilities grows, so be sure to celebrate with a non-food reward! Buy yourself a new pair of sneakers, go see a movie, take a bubble bath, or schedule a massage. All of these things will remind your brain that you’re thriving and in turn, increase your motivation.
Most importantly, remember weight loss is a journey. You have to anticipate setbacks and strive for progress, not perfection. Change doesn’t happen overnight, so if you slip up, don’t give up. Remind yourself that one meal, one day, or even one weekend off track is not going to affect your weight in the long run. Your weight is determined by the choices you make day-to-day over a long period of time, so don’t focus on feelings of guilt or shame. Instead, commit to action, make your next meal a great one, and walk toward a better day without looking back.