Happy February everyone! Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? If so, you're in good company. So, how is your resolution to lose weight faring?
Psychologists say that many resolutions are broken before January is out. The fact that we seem to make the same resolutions every year suggests that few of them stick.
But even if you broke last year's (or every year's) resolutions, this year can be different.
Keep a log
When you are trying to change habitual patterns, it can be very enlightening and helpful to keep a log of your daily activities. If you are trying to cut down on salt, keep track of how much you take in. If you want to get into the habit of exercising regularly, log your daily mileage or calories burned. If you are trying to stop out-of-control spending, write down everything you spend for a couple of weeks. If you have a smart phone, there are all kinds of apps that make this fun and easy. If you don’t, you’ll find of lots of handy tools on the web. A pad and pencil work great, too.
Stay focused on your actions, not your progress
According to researchers at Yale University, the trick to sticking to your resolutions is to stay focused on your commitment to a certain course of action (like eating healthier, spending less, or exercising more) and not pay too much attention to your results or progress toward a specific goal.
Find a support network
Research shows that support and encouragement from others with the same goals is a big help. A lot of you have already tapped into the community on my Nutrition Diva Facebook page, which is a great place to interact with people who are interested in eating healthy. Family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers are other potential support networks.
Go on record
To give your resolution a little extra staying power, share it with others. There's something about making your resolution public that makes it just a little harder to abandon. Why not post your resolution below or share it on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page or the Diet-to-Go Facebook page?
Here are a few small changes that can make a big difference in your health for the rest of 2011:
Make your resolutions as specific as possible: Vague resolutions like "eat better" or "exercise more" are hard to quantify and, therefore, easy to fudge and, eventually, forget. You’ll have a much better chance of succeeding with a specific, measurable goal like taking the dog for a one mile walk before dinner every night.
Choose a goal that is realistic but meaningful: Don’t underestimate the power of small changes—especially when you stick with them. Grandiose plans to radically overhaul your diet on January 1st are usually doomed to failure. You'll get a lot more mileage out of choosing a couple of small but meaningful changes that you can stick to until they've become ingrained habits.
Be positive: By this, I don't mean "be optimistic" (although that never hurts!). Rather, I mean that it's easier to eliminate a bad habit when you replace it with a better one. So, if your resolution involves "no more candy bars at work," make "pack a healthy snack to take to work every day" part of the resolution.
About Monica Reinagel, The Nutrition Diva
Monica Reinagel is a board-certified Licensed Nutritionist and a professionally-trained chef. She is the host of the Nutrition Diva podcast which is part of the Quick and Dirty Tips network. She has authored three books on health and nutrition, developed recipes and diet plans for websites and other publications. Monica's professional affiliations include the American Dietetic Association, the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the American Guild of Musical Artists.
Reprinted by arrangement with Quick and Dirty Tips, a division of Macmillan Holdings, LLC.