Often our New Year’s resolutions include going on a diet to lose weight. Many times we think of diets as something we “go on.” If we “go on” a diet, then at some point we will “go off” the diet. After a few weeks this resolution can leave us feeling frustrated, guilty, or like a failure. Instead of resolving to “go on” a diet, a better approach is to focus on making lifestyle changes that include changes in our eating and physical activity habits.
- Forget the fad diets and exercise plans. Is what you’re asking yourself to do something you can live with and do the rest of your life? If not, re-evaluate.
- Be realistic. Make sure your goals and eating or activity plans work for you and your lifestyle. Start slowly and gradually increase your goals.
- Make a commitment. If you are not truly committed to your goal, it won’t happen.
- Write it down. Writing things down builds in self-accountability. Keep a food journal. Include not only what you ate, but how much, when, and where you ate. This can make you aware of your eating habits and can help you find trigger foods or situations. It may also help you cut down on mindless eating. Use your journal to keep track of physical activity as well.
- Plan ahead. Have a plan in place for those times you anticipate more challenges with healthy eating and physical activity. They will happen-be prepared!
- Forgive yourself. You don’t have to be perfect. If you feel like you’ve failed, you’re likely to give up. If you view the changes as a lifestyle, then an off-day here or there will not make or break you. You only fail if you quit.
- Build in a non-food reward system. It might be as simple as getting that new book you’ve been wanting. Reward yourself for those positive lifestyle changes that you’re making. Rewards reinforce positive behaviors and can be incentives for continued changes. Success breeds success.
These strategies will help you make those permanent lifestyle changes and keep your New Year’s resolutions!