Key Steps to Sticking to Your Health Goals This Year
By: Whittany Gibson, RD, RDN
Are you making New Year's resolutions to be healthier? Chances are, some of your past resolutions may have not stood the test of time. Why not? If you don't know the answer, it's quite likely you set your goals too high, tried to achieve too many new goals at once or you just simply didn't plan. I get it, life happens sometimes, but that can't always be the excuse. Lack of planning and structure is usually the culprit when it comes to not being able to create good habits. We all seem to make it so hard when in reality, very simple steps can be taken to help you succeed in following through with your goals.
Step 1. Plan!
Every element of success begins with a plan and having structure in your day. If neither of these exists, you depend on willpower or chance to get things done which never really gets you far with achieving your goals. The timing of your plans is also important and needs to be realistic. It would be counterproductive to plan your workout at the end of the workday if you are usually low on energy and tired at that time. Set yourself up for success. Don't be afraid to ask others for help with planning. Chances are, your friends, family and coworkers want you to be healthier also.
Step 2. Put it down on paper!
Start with a planner or calendar. If you have something you want to achieve, get it out of your head and put it down on paper or else it just stays in your head. You won't believe how many times I've heard from patients, "I know what I need to do, I just need to do it." Those thoughts will drive you crazy with guilt and before you know it, you'll have the same thoughts six months later. Look at your upcoming week and schedule everything you can ... your meals, workouts, rest time, fun time or whatever else it is you "need" to do.
Step 3. Start small!
If you want to achieve your goals, don't feel bad if you start with something small. For instance, if you don't eat any fruits or vegetables, start with adding one fruit or vegetable a day into your diet. If it's exercise you'd like to add in, go for a 20-minute walk after dinner every day if that's what you would enjoy doing. If it's accountability you would like to improve on, simply start logging your food daily as much as you are able to. After you develop the habit of consistency, build on it. Add more time or intensity to your exercise, cut out another unhealthy food per day, or add more detail to your food log.
Step 4. Mentality!
Change your self-talk. If you tell yourself, "I want to try to go walking every day this week," chances are it won't happen or you'll just do it when you feel like it. If you tell yourself, "I will go walking every day this week," the chances of achieving that goal are much higher because your mind is prepared to do it and you have planned to do it!