Article By: Melissa Moses, MS, RD, LDN, and Katie Boles, RD, LDN
Every New Year many of us fall into old habits. We tell ourselves that this year will be different. This year we will stick to our resolutions. Many of us don’t even stick with them for one month, let alone one year! So how can we make this year different and escape the pitfalls of New Year’s resolutions?
Let’s start with the popular things we try again and again, but have a hard time doing long-term:
- Dieting and calorie counting
- Cutting portions
- Avoiding our favorite foods
- Going to the gym every day
- Avoiding fast food
- Cooking every meal at home
There are many diets and quick fixes. Do they work? We find that they tend to make us gain more weight than when we started. Why? When we restrict or deprive ourselves of certain foods, we tend to overindulge in them later. When we set a high goal for exercising, we tend to stop, because it’s hard to stick with it. Finding the right way to set resolutions is key to changing your health forever.
Set small goals: By not overwhelming ourselves with high expectations, we’re more likely to follow new goals. For example, if you want to eliminate soda, don’t cut it out all together. Instead, reach your goal gradually by finding a low-sugar alternative to drink once a day. You can then switch to the alternative two times a day, and so on. You will find it easier not to have sodas every day by gradually decreasing your intake. Once you reach your goal, you can let yourself have soda on special occasions.
Track your habits: Tracking is a way to help you stick to your goal. You will notice what is going well, and what you want to change. You can then set small goals based on the habits you tracked. Try tracking just one habit at first.
Think of exercise as play: Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Make it fun! Maybe you enjoy tennis, dancing or swimming. You can even plan family activities, such as hiking, kick ball, a trip to the zoo, or even a scavenger hunt as you walk in the neighborhood.
Find the right balance of food: Do you want to cut your portions? Then try using the balanced-plate method. Aim for one quarter of your plate to be protein; one quarter, starch/grains; and one half, a mix of fruits and vegetables. By having four food groups on your plate, you cut your portions naturally. You will feel more satisfied and stay fuller, longer.
Plan meals: When we plan, it makes our lives easier and helps us make healthier choices. By planning ahead, you can dodge stops for fast food, because you’ll already have dinner prepared.
Remember: Keep your resolutions realistic. We recommend focusing on one habit at a time. Having a healthy relationship with food and having fun being active helpsyou enjoy yourself more. It also keeps you from being bogged down, trying to maintain an unrealistic lifestyle.
The Brenner FIT team wants to help you establish healthier habits. For more information about free Brenner FIT Kohl’s Family Collaborative classes, e-mail Sara Ebbers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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