It’s the end of January. How many of you have given up on your New Year’s resolutions already? Some stats I found said that only 8% of people are successful in completing their resolutions and only 64% of people make it past the first month.
Why is it so hard to keep our resolutions? It may be that we are setting the wrong resolutions. We may be focusing on a goal that just doesn’t matter that much, when we could focus on something more important and more rewarding. Or maybe the goal is too big or too hard. It can be hard to keep working at something when you aren’t seeing any progress. We forget that we have all year to achieve our goal, not just 2 weeks. We might need to have some sub goals to help us keep going.
Part of my work as a dietitian is help people set goals to improve their eating and lead healthier lives. Here are three common health resolutions I hear people make and some suggestions for how to make them better.
1. Lose weight.
Weight loss can be a noble goal, but isn’t the most practical resolution out there. There are plenty of data out there showing that leading a healthy lifestyle at ANY weight can have significant health benefits. Focusing on eating more fruits, veggies, and whole grains and being more active is more important. Weight is just a number. Health is much more complicated than that single number can show. Besides, weight loss isn’t as simple as calories in, calories out, unfortunately. You may find yourself putting in a lot of effort to lose weight with little result if you are only looking at the number on your scale.
So, if you feel that weight loss MUST be your goal, I would suggest adding as sub-goals those healthy lifestyle changes. Add an extra serving of vegetables to your dinner. Go on a walk for half an hour rather than watch TV. Eat fruit for a snack instead of candy. You can achieve these much more quickly than losing weight, giving you that shiny star of success to keep you going until the weight comes off. In the meantime, you will have already made important progress toward living a more healthy life.
2. Don’t eat (fill in the blank).
Eliminating a food from you diet is pretty unrealistic for most of us. By applying that “forbidden” label, the food just becomes more enticing. Our cravings keep growing until we finally cave and binge. I prefer a “moderation” approach. Eat too many carbs? Then try cutting your portion sizes by half. Eat too many sweets? Try sticking to treats only once a week. You can still eat your food, but your intake is more controlled.
3. Get fit.
Exercise is a great goal to have. But please set something realistic for you. Most of us won’t be ready for a marathon by the end of this month or even this year. I admit this is an area I especially struggle with. Last year, my resolution was to exercise 1 day a week. Sad, I know, but at that point in my life, it was a big goal for me. This year, I increased to 4 days a week. Life happens, but I can feel good about getting to the gym most days. A little stretching in the goal is good, but keep it do-able for you.
Remember, no one is perfect. It is never too late to pick up, dust off, and start all over again. Whether it is trying your old resolution again or making a new one, you can do it. Remember, there are still 334 days left in 2014. Let’s make them count!
Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will will answer them in upcoming posts!