Not many of us make New Years Resolutions that last beyond January. This year, let’s change that! Here are some tips for setting realistic goals and staying motivated so you can actually reach them.
1. Set reasonable goals. Giving up foods you love, eliminating entire food groups from your diet, or wanting to lose 10 lbs in a month are not reasonable goals. If you know where your weak areas are, start whittling away one of them at a time. For example, if you’re used to having a glass of wine every night, a realistic goal may be to have a glass of wine 3 nights/week instead. Over time, this will lead to weight loss that you can actually sustain.
2. Make a commitment. Nothing happens without effort. If you’re making a goal you actually want to reach, you’ll need to commit to putting in some energy.
3. Ask yourself why. Why do you want to lose weight? Why haven’t you been able to in the past? Why is this time different? The answers to these questions may help you overcome obstacles before they even arise.
4. Change your surroundings / routine. If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to change some aspects of your lifestyle. Maybe you’ll clean out your pantry at home, avoid restaurants that tempt you to overeat, and start meeting your friends for walks instead of meals. Set yourself up for success by building in buffers that support what you’re doing.
5. Gather Support. Get a few friends or family members on board with your goals. If they’re willing to work alongside you, you’ll have more success – and more fun – getting to where you want to be.
6. Find non-food ways to relax. It’s easy to turn to food or cocktails to blow off steam when we’re stressed, but this doesn’t usually lead us to better health and we often feel worse before we ever feel better. Find your own calorie-free outlets for stress and enjoyment, so you always have something to look forward to besides food.
7. Be flexible. Make sure flexibility is worked into your goals. Travel, stress, lack of planning, unexpected changes to our routine, etc can mean the end of a healthy habit — but not if you plan ahead. Anticipate this ahead of time, so you can make the best decision within different contexts, even if they’re not what you expected.
Remember, change is slow. Weight loss (and all other resolutions) take time and energy, but getting to your goal should not make you miserable. Give yourself time to get there — you’ll be happier in the short-run and healthier in the long-run!
Happy New Year!