The arrival of the new year means it’s the perfect time to make resolutions that will change your eating habits, adapt your lifestyle, and help you become a new, healthier you for the coming year. There’s just one problem: as few as 8% of people actually keep those resolutions, and more than half of those who resolved to make sweeping life changes gave up within a month. That doesn’t sound like a great recipe for success!
This year, instead of making resolutions that you won’t stick with, try making lifestyle changes that will help you reach your diet goals over time.
One of the biggest difficulties in keeping New Year’s resolutions is that people tend to want to start too big. Whether you have ten pounds to lose or a hundred, whether you’re a confirmed couch potato or simply want to take your fitness routine up a notch, you’ll find that huge, sweeping changes can be very difficult to maintain long-term.
Purging every grain of sugar from your diet, especially after a holiday filled with treats, can feel like you’re depriving yourself of your favorite foods. Instead, try limiting your sugar intake or making some of these other small dietary changes:
- Remove soda and other sugary drinks from your regular drink roster, and replace them with tea or water.
- Commit to eating more protein, which will help you feel satisfied longer than many so-called diet foods.
- Choose fruits and vegetables that you can grab quickly for snacks or that you know you and your family like.
- Cook for yourself more often. This makes it easier to manage portion sizes and be sure that you aren’t consuming hidden calories.
- Swap to whole grains instead of processed white grains. The nutrients in whole grains are much better for you, and on top of that, they have a richer taste that will help you feel more satisfied.
If you really want to keep your diet and exercise resolutions for the coming year, acknowledge the commitment you’re making. Don’t simply commit to maintaining your goals until you reach a small, finite goal: losing a specific amount of weight, shaving some time off your mile, or being able to lift a certain weight. Instead, make a commitment to lifestyle changes that will last a lifetime. You don’t want to reach your goals early in the year, only to realize at the beginning of next year that you’re right back where you started.
Admit that you aren’t depriving or pushing yourself for a month or two, but rather living a healthier, more fulfilling life overall. Restricting what you eat short-term is ultimately doomed to failure as you return to your previous eating habits and gain back whatever weight you managed to lose (often with a few bonus pounds to accompany it). Decide that, this year, you aren’t just dieting; you’re making a lifestyle change in favor of your health.
In many cases, you’ll find that what your resolution looks like changes when you look at it as a long-term change, instead of a short-term fix. Instead of purging desserts forever, you’ll learn to start looking for healthy alternatives to your favorite high-calorie recipes. You won’t drag yourself to the gym every day for the rest of your life over an exercise class or routine that you hate. But when you love your class, you’ll look forward to attending every day.
Positive lifestyle changes can make a huge impact on your body, your outlook, and your health, while short-term diets often have minimal effects over the course of your lifetime.
Have a Plan
It’s easy to say that you want to lose ten pounds this year, that you want to “improve your diet,” or that you’re hoping to “stay more active.” All of those things, however, will do you little good when you’re faced with the weight of actually keeping those resolutions.
What does “being more active” actually look like to you? Is it about getting up and running a mile or five every morning, or does it mean getting off of the couch and going for a walk every evening after dinner? How are you going to achieve your weight loss goals?
If your goal is weight loss, you want to design a diet and exercise plan that incorporates solid nutrition. You don’t want to have to count every calorie you eat for the rest of your life. Instead, focus on positive, quantifiable changes. For example, you might:
- Commit to eating dessert no more than two or three times per week.
- Decide to include fruits or vegetables in every meal you eat.
- Try to hit your 10,000 step goal every day.
- Join a class at the gym, and commit to attending at least twice every week.
- Dedicate yourself to trying one new healthy recipe every week.
- Purge artificial sweeteners from your diet. Instead, commit to fully enjoying your treats when you do eat them.
Remember, you’re making lifestyle changes, not short-term plans. That means that you want your goals to be realistic and achievable. If you’re a confirmed couch potato who has never set foot in a gym, expecting yourself to suddenly hit the elliptical five days a week is probably unrealistic. Purging your favorite foods from your diet can feel unnecessarily restrictive and set you up for failure. Instead, set quantifiable goals that will set you up for success all year.
The arrival of the new year is an excellent opportunity to make changes that will affect your body and your lifestyle for the rest of your life. The holidays are over, and your excuses are gone. Will you take advantage of this opportunity?
If you’re looking for more ways to make the most of a healthy lifestyle, contact us today to learn more.