Are you thinking about any New Years resolutions? Most people have at least one health related resolution, and most likely its to lose weight and/or exercise more. Research suggests, 60% of those who make New Year’s resolutions keep them for at least part of the year. The bad news is, the other 40% of us find it too hard to keep our resolutions. In fact, at least 25% of those who resolve to make a change won’t make it past the first week.
The biggest reason most New Year’s resolutions aren’t kept is because they are usually too ambitious and without a specific plan of attack. Change takes time, and habits (especially those which we’ve spent a lifetime developing) are hard to break. Diet and weight loss changes are some of the most difficult to tackle because our eating habits usually come with lots of excess baggage. Most of us eat the way we do not because we’re thinking about our health, but for comfort, or because we’re stressed, or out of habit, or family tradition.
So as we’re about to start a new year, I’d like to vote for NOT making resolutions. Psychologists (and nutritionists) know that individuals who set small, tangible, one day at a time goals, tend to be more successful. So rather than resolving to “lose weight” or “eat healthier”, let’s all work on making small, manageable changes in our diets, which over time, will result in weight loss or better health. If you are a perpetual “resolution breaker”, focus on making only one of the following changes at a time. Work at it until it becomes a new healthy habit, and then build on your success, and add another change.
If you don’t mind – a few suggestions:
- Eat a piece of fruit in the mid morning, and serving of raw vegetables for an afternoon snack each day. Most people fall short of the recommended 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, so adding these two servings will nudge you closer to your target.
- Eat most of your calories earlier in the day, when they are easier to burn. Research shows that people who eat a larger breakfast and lunch, tend to be leaner.
- Make sure you eat your calories, not drink them. With the exception of low fat milk, most caloric beverages add little in the way of nutrition, but lots to your daily calorie intake, so do the math. Substituting water, seltzer, tea or a zero calorie beverage for 3-4 daily calorie containing beverages like juice, soda, wine, or beer will result in almost one pound of weight loss per week.
- Eat only at the kitchen table. That means no eating at your desk, in the car, in front of the TV, or at the stove or cabinet, and definitely not in bed.
- Plan out your meals and snacks for several days each week. People who are successful at changing their eating habits are good planners. They decide ahead of time what to eat, create a shopping list, shop only once each week (to avoid impulse purchases), and make sure they have the right ingredients available to prepare and pack healthy meals and snacks. If you’re not a planner, this might seem overwhelming, or too time consuming, but it really is the key to your success, so it’s worth working at. Once you master the art of meal planning, not only will you eat healthier, but also, you’ll save time, money, and the stress of not having an answer to the “what’s for dinner tonight” question.
- Make at least one day each week meatless. There are so many benefits of eating a plant based diet, both for your health and the environment, so how about setting aside one day each week and making it meatless? If you need inspiration, check out the Meatless Monday website, and my Meatless Monday boards on Pinterest.
- Find yourself a good, responsible exercise buddy who’s more motivated than you. All the fabulous workout clothes, or the fancy gym will lose their luster after a few weeks, but a committed workout buddy will you on your toes, and actually working out.
Finally, remember that big changes always take more time to master, while smaller changes like these, can happen quickly, and still have a positive impact on your health.
What small changes do you think you can commit to?