By: Deborah Jeffery, RD LD
On January 1st, millions of Americans will celebrate the beginning of the New Year with promises to “lose 10 pounds or to exercise more.” Months later with the unused tread mill sitting in the corner and the scale reading the same number, many are asking what happened to their good intentions. Those who are successful with their resolutions recognize that behavioral changes do not happen overnight but are a process. This process includes realistic goals that are specific, flexible, and rewarding. Some tips to help you achieve your resolutions:
- Make your goals realistic and achievable – You have to consider your lifestyle and what you can realistic achieve. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, you should not aim to lose it in 6 weeks. That time frame is unrealistic and a setup for failure, but many dieters do this to themselves. They set goals that are difficult or impossible to achieve; and when they fail, they reinforce their belief that they are unable to be successful.
- Make goals specific – Merely, saying that you want to lose weight or eat healthier is vague and unclear. Having a specific goal with dates will help you be committed and focused. For example your goal might be “I will lose 20 pounds by May 1st” or “I will increase by intake of fruits & vegetables to 5 every day. I’ll start by eating 3 servings this week, and I’ll increase by 1 serving every week until I reach my goal.”
- Make changes in your surroundings- Changes in your environment may help you to stay on track and to avoid temptation. For example if you want to eat healthier, purge your house of the empty calorie, junk food.
- Anticipate setbacks – Setbacks are part of the behavior change process. Many people with an “all or nothing” approach fail to meet their goals because they won’t tolerate mistakes and then allow themselves to move on. For individuals with this mentality, eating a piece of cake is a sign of failure so they abandon their goals of eating healthier. Changing eating behaviors is particularly difficult because it involves making many decisions about what to eat every day. It is unrealistic to think that mistakes or errors in judgment will not be made.
- Reward yourself – Rewards can be useful in providing incentives for achieving goals. When you’re having a hard time maintaining your efforts, establish a reward system of incentives that would help you stay with your program. It could be setting aside time to read a book or having a massage.
Changing behaviors is very hard. Use these tips to help yourself be successful!
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