January is the time for New Year’s Resolutions, and one of the most common resolutions is to lose weight. Often people will set their goal to lose a certain amount of weight by a certain date. For example, they will set their sights on losing 10, 20, 50 or 100 pounds by bathing suit season. However, if the scale is the motivating factor or if expectations are unrealistic, you are setting yourself up for failure. So how can you make 2012 the year that you stick with your New Year’s Resolution beyond January? The following are a few tips:
- Be realistic with your goals! I put this first because I believe this is the most important key to success. If you didn’t exercise in 2011, don’t plan to exercise 1 hour everyday, 7-days-a-week in 2012. You will get burned out and stop exercising all together. Rather, set a goal to exercise 2 days each week for 30 minutes and gradually increase exercise over time. Focus on one or two changes at a time instead of completely turning your diet/exercise patterns upside down.
- Set action goals, not weight loss goals. Instead of setting a goal to “lose 2 pounds per week”, set an action plan for what steps you will take to lose weight. This takes the focus off of the scale and puts it onto the steps that are necessary to achieve success. If you focus on what changes you want to make, the weight loss will take care of itself. Some examples of action goals could be:
- I will eat at least 1 fruit and 1 vegetable every day.
- I will clean out my cabinets and get rid of the “junk food” that is tempting me to overeat.
- I will eat breakfast at least 5 days this week.
- I will walk for 15 minutes during my lunch break 3 days this week.
You can see that all of these goals are specific and measurable. In other words, you should be able to look back at the week and know if you did or did not accomplish them. Remember, tip number one….keep them realistic!
- Be accountable to someone. Hire a personal trainer, work with a dietitian or enlist a family member, friend or co-worker to be your health partner. Let them know what your goals are and discuss your progress regularly. When you let someone else know your goals, it can help to stay on track and gives you the support and encouragement you need to get you through the tough weeks.
- Forgive yourself if you slip. You are only human, and you are going to make mistakes in life. Habits can be challenging to break, so don’t expect perfection. If you mess up one day or one week, you don’t have to start from square one. Just get yourself back on track and think “what is the next best thing I can do to achieve my goal”. It could be starting with step one and two again, make sure your goals are realistic and you have an appropriate plan of action.
- Remember this…Just because you haven’t achieved your goal of losing weight or maintaining a weight loss in the past, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do it in the future. Perhaps the timing wasn’t right or the plan was flawed. Perhaps you need more nutrition education, support, or help with breaking down your personal barriers to weight loss. Again, this may be an area where working with a dietitian and/or a personal trainer may help.
I hope you have a happy and healthy 2012!