T’is the time of year to focus on goals for the New Year. While there are lots of jokes about making resolutions that will be broken, the reality is you can be successful. The key to success is to set realistic goals and create a plan to achieve them.
First, make a specific goal with a defined timeline. For example, instead of “I want to lose 30 pounds” change to “I will lose 2 pounds a week by following a defined low-calorie meal plan and exercising (add specific activity) 60 minutes 6 days a week to achieve a 30 pound weight loss over the next 4 months.”
Second, create a plan by breaking your goals into steps. For example, obtain recipes and menus for your eating plan; decide on a day each week to plan meals, grocery shop, pre-prep meals and snacks, plan meals away from home, etc. Your plan is important in replacing old habits with new actions.
Third, identify breakthroughs that will motivate and keep you on track. Examples include fitting into that favorite pair of jeans that got too tight to wear; gaining strength or endurance evidenced by less exertion during exercise; craving fresh fruit—there are many personal milestones that will keep you motivated.
Last, record your progress. This will make you more aware of your successes and help you reevaluate if part of your plan is not working. Weight and measurement records, food journals, and activity journals can help you see how your efforts are paying off. Tracking can also help you see if you need to make adjustments along the way.
Here are some additional diet tips to increase your food focus for the New Year:
- Slow down when you eat. Focus on food flavor and texture. Chew more slowly and be in the present moment when you eat or drink.
- Sit down. Make eating a single planned activity instead of multitasking while eating. Identify a designated place to eat. Create an eating experience by adding a place setting, flowers, candle, music—whatever helps you focus—then, just eat!
- Learn to appreciate and be thankful for your food. What did it take for the fresh produce to make it from farm to your table? Think about the sunlight, water and nutrients from the soil; the farmers and merchants and processes that made your meal possible. Express your food gratitude!
You can achieve your goals in 2019. Happy New Year!
Sara Colman RD, CDE
Written for Balanced Habits, LLC
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