Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Guide to New Year's Resolutions

Happy almost 2016! I can't believe how fast the year went for me! Being a dietitian, I have had tons of calls and appointments scheduled for January already. I had a few clients who were interested in getting started now; however, most wanted to enjoy their last hurrah.

While I hate to put it so bluntly, most of my busiest times are during January, May, and September. It tends to be this kind of cycle: start in January (gym + eating better), last until about March, give-up for a little bit, start back up for May to get ready for the summer, let loose for the summer, get back on track for September (now that everyone is in school and in a better routine), fall off near Halloween and continue that way until January...rinse...and repeat! Now, some of you may be laughing and saying, "Yes, this is totally me!" Others may say, "No! I keep it going all year!" The goal of my post today is to give you real tips on how to make your New Year's resolutions stick (and stick longer than just February).

Brainstorm both long and short-term goals
When I say long-term goals, I am saying what is your ultimate goal? Say you want to lose 30 pounds, exercise more, or just lead a healthier life. Think about what you are going to do to accomplish those goals. These short-term goals can be to exercise 30 minutes a day for 3 times per week or to eat at least 3 vegetables per day or to drink water or unsweetened beverages instead of soda, and so on and so forth. Remember, when setting goals, make sure they are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely)!

Write down your goals. 
Why is it important to write it down? For starters, it puts it plainly on paper for you to stare at! Post your goals around the house, on the fridge, or on the cabinet. I have clients that post their goals on the mirror to see in the morning, then post another note by the snacks. Then, if they go to snack on something they have to think about if what they are going to eat is going to help or hinder them reaching their goals. So, that being said make your goals a constant reminder!

Know your barriers
Whenever I talk to clients about their goals, we always talk about what will stand in their way. Maybe, you want to exercise more, but time is a barrier. Maybe, you want to eat healthier but your family is not supportive. Take a couple of minutes to write down all the barriers you have to reaching your goals. Then, write down how you can overcome those barriers. If time is an issue, write out your day and pick a time where you can exercise. This may mean swapping out 1 hour of TV for 1 hour at the gym or getting up 30 minutes earlier to do a quick workout at home. Acknowledging and facing your barriers will help to set you up for success!

Commit to yourself
Why is your goal important to you? Why do you want to run a marathon? Why do you want to eat healthier? Really think about what makes your goal important to you and you only. This is what will drive your motivation to reach your goals. After you think about why your goal is important, make a personal commitment to yourself. While there are so many excuses you can make for not doing something, YOU alone make the choice. Invest in yourself and your health. Stop thinking and worrying about what everyone else wants and says. Remember, that it is your body and you are your biggest supporter.

Track your progress
I feel like everyone is always saying this but seriously DO IT. Get a calendar or a notebook and write down every day that you reach your goal. Or, track your weight each week. Why is this helpful? If you get discouraged, you can see how much progress you have been making so far. I get a lot of clients feeling discouraged after working hard at their goal. I have been doing this exercise with them lately: Whenever you feel discouraged, write down at least 5 positive things you have accomplished so far. For example, maybe your goal was to lose 1 pound per week and you have been eating healthier every day. You step on the scale and the number didn't budge! When you write down your 5 things, you find that even though you didn't lose weight you went to the gym 3x, you ate more vegetables, you had less soda and more water, you walked farther on the treadmill, and you still got on the scale even though you didn't want to. More often than not, clients lose that commitment when they hit a rough patch. Remind yourself how awesome you are. Again, you are your biggest supporter!

Why do most people stop their "diets" or stop exercising or stop eating healthy? A lot of times it is due to boredom. Other times, it is due to someone reaching their goal, then going back to their old habits. Thinking back to the "track your progress" part, if you feel yourself getting bored or frustrated, reassess your goals. Are they still challenging? Are they still important to you? Do you need to step it up a bit?

Get Support
My last piece of advice is to get support. It can be from family, friends, co-workers, etc. When you fall off track or get frustrated have at least 1 person you can rely on to help remind you of your goals and why they are important to you. If you don't have someone in mind, consider joining a support group. I lead a support group at work and even though some of the participants have zero support at home, they find support in their classmates. It is so heartwarming to have someone express their frustration and hearing another participant speak up and remind them how great they are and how far they have come! (Did I mention I love my job :))

Hopefully, you will find something useful in this post to help YOU stick to your goals this New Year. Hope you enjoy the rest of 2015!