Healthy New Year's Resolutions - 4 Things You Need To Know
Written by: Evelyn Cheng, Dietetic Intern
I can’t believe that 2014 is almost coming to an end! The start of a new year represents a fresh start for many people, which is often accompanied by the buzz about making New Year’s resolutions. There’s some excitement involved in planning to make positive changes in our lives—to make healthier food choices, increase activity, read books, and so on. But all too often, we set resolutions that just don’t stick. We have the best of intentions at the beginning but slowly fall off the wagon by the time Valentine’s day rolls around.
Why do we find it so hard to keep our resolutions? As Dr. Arya Sharma of the Canadian Obesity Network said, one reason we find it so hard to stick to resolutions is that we set unrealistic ones. Instead of looking at it as a failure, think of it as an opportunity to reflect and don’t feel discouraged.
Here are 4 important questions to ask yourself before setting a resolution:
- What is your motivation?
Ask yourself: what is motivating you to make the resolution in the first place?
Maybe you want to improve your diet because someone once made a snarky comment and made you feel uncomfortable. While this can be very powerful, your motivation to make a change is because someone else wants you to do it. This is an “extrinsic motivator” which tends to be short-term. On the flip side, “intrinsic motivators” are much more effective. So try digging deeper within yourself to find positive reasons to make change because you want to.
For example, I want to eat better and become healthier so I can set a good example for my kids to do the same.
- Do you have a plan?
Before you start working towards your goal, let’s say improving your diet, think about this: do you have a plan?
If you’ve always had popcorn while at the movie theatre, and your resolution is to give it up entirely, it might be unrealistic. Instead, set a resolution that isn’t going to feel so restrictive, such as choosing a small popcorn without the extra butter, instead of doing away with it altogether. Come up with an action plan before you get to the theatre, so that you feel prepared. Maybe you will decide not to go to the theatre hungry, by having a small balanced snack (see here: what is a balanced snack?).
Read Eating Well - Smart Food Choices which gives fantastic tips on how to make SMART goals.
- Did you take on too much?
Another common problem is that we so often make the wrong resolution, or we make too many resolutions all at once. The key to success is patience. Take time to think about what your priorities are – don’t make a resolution just because everyone around you seems to think it’s important.
Also, don't try to do everything at once. If you're starting to feel overwhelmed, think about whether your goals were too lofty. Think small. Focus on one or two goals at a time. This will increase your likelihood for success and maybe even motivate you to take it one step further.
- Understand that change takes time
It’s safe to say that when you make New Year's Resolutions, you hope for it to be a lasting change. If your goal is to lose weight, it would not be realistic to expect the scale to drop 20 pounds in 2 weeks! Try taking small steps and making simple changes to your routine. This way, you’re setting the stage for sustainable change.
For example: My goal is to achieve healthy weight loss by going for a walk at least every other day and keeping a food/activity journal to be mindful of my patterns.
It’s important to remember that everyone is unique and that lasting changes aren’t supposed to be easy. So make sure you give yourself credit for making New Year’s resolution for a better, healthier you!
And here are 7 Realistic Resolutions For The New Year
Check out our facebook page, where Registered Dietitian Sarah Remmer posts free daily nutrition and health tips as well as healthy recipes, articles and resources