It may sound cliché but we all want to get off on the right foot.
We make resolutions for the New Year to be better versions of ourselves; in some fashion or another. Many of us, however, end up feeling disappointed upon the realization of not fulfilling the resolution. Research shows, half of adults make New Year’s resolutions. However, fewer than 10% manage to keep them for more than a few months. Well, I propose, how about this year, making non-resolutions or dare I say, give up on resolutions from the get-go! I can hear you all cheering now!
Take the pressure away and you may be surprised at what you can sustainably achieve. I am not proposing a total lack of expectations but rather set reasonable expectations. Take your pie in the sky resolutions and set more specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals (aka SMART goals) to ensure success and lifestyle change.
Here are my tips for a healthier you in the new year:
- I want to lose weight.
As a dietitian, I learn about the new fad diets or eating patterns either on my own or through my clients. Individuals take these on and yes, in short-term, end up eating less carbohydrates, no meat, less sugar, eating before 8pm, etc., and losing weight. However, according to many studies, fad diets restrict important nutrients and food groups that means you may miss out on the protective health effects that a balanced eating plan provides. Eating healthy is very simple; we all know what to eat but fail to swallow it. In 2015, I attended the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo and heard Dr. David Katz speak. His message was received loud and clear – eat less refined carbohydrates and added sugars, and more fruits and vegetables and whole grains. This is a clear-cut message and one you can follow every day and is sustainable. A good start; toss the chips, sugary cereals, and cookies. Replace with Greek Yogurt, seasonable fruits, and other more wholesome options.
- I will exercise more.
I want to share a secret; exercising doesn’t have to mean going to the gym! Yes, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity for health benefits. But, I propose using the word “moving” instead of “exercising.” Find a buddy to join you in your “moving” activities. Research shows, adults tend to find exercise more fun when friends join. How about committing to a 30-minute walk during lunch with a work buddy, taking the stairs, or going for a bike ride around your neighborhood with your partner. Again, moving your body doesn’t only have to happen in a gym.
- I am going to eat healthier.
I hear this a lot. And, with no specific plan, this sounds daunting. Instead, how about choosing to eat 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. By eating more fruits and veggies, you are likely to consume less calories and feel fuller. If you are more of a planner, go for packing lunch every day. A study at Tuft’s University showed the relationship between eating out and weight gain is very straightforward: The more frequently you eat out, the more likely you are to carry excess pounds. Additionally, it doesn’t seem to matter too much where you go to eat! Bringing your lunch may not sound exhilarating, but the money and calories you save are well worth it!
The best part of the un-resolution year is that set backs are accepted! There is no cheating! Remind yourself of your goals and I recommend at least a monthly check-in. Maybe even set a calendar alert! Sustainable lifestyle changes may not happen with the first go around. Strategies may need to be adjusted or you may need to enlist additional help. Be honest and keep it real. Happy New Year!