It’s that time of the year again and it arrives faster than we expect it. Here we go rushing to make resolutions for the New Year. I know I have been guilty of making some very broad goals without any direction on how I was going to achieve them. It seemed like many of my resolutions were the same year after year. After a few failed attempts at making changes I have realized I was not doing it right! So, what is the key to making resolutions that are achievable and long lasting?
The tips below are geared towards wellness but they can be applied to many other areas in your life you may want to change.
First think of what you want to achieve. Then, think of what prevents you from achieving it and set small goals that will allow you to overpass these obstacles. It is important that you realize it will be difficult at times. You may want to give up. You will probably get off track. Be aware of these setbacks. Have a plan to get over these bumps too!
Remember that wellness is a lifestyle not a trend or a temporary thing. Wellness continues despite the holidays, vacations, birthdays and any other celebrations. It fits within your day to day. It is part of you!
If you desire a healthier life, but find yourself being a victim of a bad situation - consider making environmental goals. Some ideas include:
1. Gain support from family and friends. Most everyone is working on their own goals. Help each other out!
2. Be aware of triggers that can cause you to stumble. Can you avoid these? What can you do when you face them?
3. Be in a happy, healthy environment when eating. Meal and snack times should be pleasant times.
4. When going to fast food restaurants, look up their nutritional menu and pick healthier food items. There are many apps that can help you do this!
5. Avoid eating in front of the television to keep you from overeating. Remember to have meals and snacks at the table.
6. Parents: set a good example for your children. Actions speak louder than words; this applies to wellness too!
Healthy Eating Goals
If working on eating healthy, you may need to work on planning ahead. Once again, think of what is preventing you from making the right choices. Do you have the knowledge you need? Are you skipping meals? Are the foods in your pantry too tempting? Here are some ideas that will help you.
1. Focus on foods to eat instead of foods to foods to avoid. Think My Plate: www.choosemyplate.gov
2. Choose whole grain foods like: 100% whole wheat breads and pastas as well as brown rice. These contain increased fiber that will increase your fullness. Read your labels and pick high fiber foods with at least 3 grams/serving.
3. Choose lower fat dairy products to control fat intake: skim or 1% milk, low fat cheese as well as non-fat or low fat yogurt.
4. Cook using healthier methods such as grilling, baking, roasting, steaming, braising and broiling.
5. Replace salt with other seasonings like cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, basil. etc.
6. Eat a rainbow of colors to incorporate a wide number of nutrients into your diet. The different shades of fruits and vegetables offer a variety of vitamins and minerals.
7. Choose lean meats such as: skinless chicken, fish, 95-97% ground beef, chicken or turkey, round or loin cuts of beef.
8. Find creative ways to incorporate healthy foods into children’s meals. Use cookie cutters, place foods to form shapes in their plates and let them participate in food selection and preparation.
How many days per week are you planning to exercise? Which days? How long will you be active for? You can look at your progress every month and adjust your goals as you improve!
1. Walk or jog/run for at least 30 minutes a day (put it in schedule for each day). You can start with 2 days/week and increase to a goal of 5 days/week.
2. Take the stairs instead of elevators/escalators. Set specifics; i.e. if going up 3 floors or less, I will take the stairs!
3. Avoid parking too close to an entrance, walk and get a few extra steps each day.
4. Reward yourself with non-food items when completing a goal. It doesn’t have to be a huge reward or a huge accomplishment. Everything takes work and you should recognize your efforts.
5. Buy a pedometer and aim to get extra steps progressively. You can start by averaging your steps for 3 days. Then, increase your goal by 200 steps/day every week until you reach the goal of 10,000 steps/day!
6. Keep weight loss goals realistic at about 1 lb/week.
7. Schedule plans that revolve around being active – think skating, rock climbing, bowling, biking, playing ball, etc.
8. Involve kids in chores around the house such as yard work and vacuuming.
9. Strength train for active muscles and bones. There are plenty of videos you can find online. Start using your body weight and keep the rep count low. As you improve, you can add extra weight and do more reps.
10. Find creative ways to keep being active fun! Start contests with your family. Who can do jumping jacks the longest? Who can hold a plank for more than a minute? Enroll in community fun runs. The possibilities are endless!
General Tips Affecting Everything
If you are working on your habits and behaviors, remember these can affect all your other choices. Make sure you incorporate a few goals in this area to help you better achieve your other goals.
Here are some tips on helping you achieve your healthy lifestyle goals:
1. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep helps control hunger hormones, it regulates your mood and your efficiency throughout the day!
2. Keep water and a healthy snack with you at all times. No surprises if your appointment took longer or you get caught in traffic. Always be prepared.
4. Plan out your meals for the week including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Make sure children are part of this too! Which days will they eat at school and which days will they pack their lunch?
5. Eat before you go grocery shopping. It helps you stick with what is on your list and keep you from buying foods that do not fit into your healthy choices.
6. Eat on a plate seated at a table. Don’t graze at the refrigerator or while working on the computer.
7. Don’t skip meals. To achieve this, you may have to look back at number 2 and number 4.
8. Start a journal for both weight management and food intake. Note your moods, choices, accomplishments. Keeping a record will help you control habits that lead to unhealthy decision making.
You get the idea now? Making better food choices or getting active are good broad goals. You have to plan on the specifics if you want to succeed! Use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym when making any goals. They must be Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
Remember that we all have things to work on. Give yourself credit for your efforts. Take small steps that will matter at the end. Keep focus on your goals. It will take work. It will take dedication. You may fall off track…get back on as quickly as you can! You are strong and you can achieve anything you want.
Consider contacting a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in your local area that specializes in wellness and healthy lifestyle counseling. You can find one in your area by going to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. If you are here in the Dallas area, Lemond Nutrition would be honored to help you and your family. Many of our clients have 100% of their services covered by insurance! Click here to find out if dietitian services are covered under your insurance plan.
Cheers to a happy and healthy New Year to everyone!
Need more inspiration? Check out our past new year blog posts:
Special thanks to Stacy Gage, Texas Woman's University dietetic intern for gathering much of the content for this article.