When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, many of us choose leading a healthier lifestyle as the one at the forefront. Yet staying on track can be difficult to do in our hectic lives.
To help you maintain focus, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 ways to stay the course with your New Year’s resolution goals, which we believe will keep you motivated as you work to improve your lifestyle the healthy and delicious way!
How many of us say, “My resolution is going to be to lose weight!” without actually putting any concrete numbers down on paper? Take some time this first week to jot down your exact goals and set up a timeline of when you’d like to see them achieved. Then, print that sheet off and hang it up where you’ll see it every day. Add a motivational quote at the bottom to keep you going. Ours looks like this:
Writing it down keeps you focused on where you’d like to be and how long you have to get there. Plus, the pride you’ll feel when you look at that chart and watch the pounds melt off will be worth every second.
You have to take it to the next level if you really want to achieve your objectives. To do this, logging your weekly changes is key. Make sure you include dates, starting weights and ending weights. Be sure to give yourself a set date and time to weigh in on, such as Friday before breakfast. And keep it simple. You don’t have to track every inch you lose off your waist, but you should take a few minutes each week to write down where you were and how far you’ve come.
Here’s a sample of what we did. You can make yourself a similar spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel and print it out, or you can create one using Google docs. Google docs allows you to make changes on the spreadsheet and saves them automatically in real-time. It gives you a tangible thing to look at and ensure that you are working towards your weight loss goals.
We’re not talking simply writing down what you think you ate at the end of the day. We’re talking logging every snack, serving and calorie. This may sound excessive, but it’s crucial. Logging what you eat keeps you accountable and helps you see where you need to make adjustments. Fortunately, keeping a food journal on paper where you have to make charts and spend countless time adding up calories and writing things out is a thing of the past. There are many websites like My-Calorie-Counter dedicated to helping you keep a food diary, and if you have a smart phone, you can download free apps, such as MyFitnessPal, Lose It or FitDay to keep track of your calories and automatically log your daily food intake. Many common foods are already in the apps’ database, including your Diet-to-Go meals. The apps also allow you to set a goal weight and track your progress, as well as engage in an online community where others can help you stay motivated.
Of course, if you’d rather stick to the traditional methods and log your food in your own journal, that’s fine too. The important thing is to hold yourself responsible for what you eat and track your calories consistently.
One of the biggest obstacles people face in achieving their New Year’s weight loss goals are temptations. Walk into your kitchen and open you pantry. What do you see? If you’re like most people, your shelves will be lined with bags of chips, cookie packages, leftover holiday candy and boxes of processed food. These are the temptations we are referring to, and their role in halting your weight loss in its tracks is overwhelming. The solution is simple: take all those high-calorie, high-fat foods, load up a garbage bag, and march them straight to the dumpster. Throw them away because once you do, you’ll find that resisting the temptation of over-indulgence after the New Year will be not only possible, but much more probable.
By preparing what you’re going to eat in advance, you can take a preemptive stance against eating bad foods when you’re in a hurry or over-indulging, which will help ensure you stay on track with your diet goals. Take your Sunday afternoon to outline and prepare your meals for the week to come. Or if you’d rather, spend 30 minutes every evening to prepare what you’ll eat the next day. Plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner and an afternoon snack. The nice thing about Diet-to-Go meals is we do all this work for you. They are pre-prepared with calories and other nutritional needs already accounted for so you don’t have to spend any time measuring or cooking. All you have to do is eat the food and lose the weight.
Ok, we know this one can sound scary and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s no need to set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Just start small and work your way up the fitness ladder. Try to get some exercise every day. If you can fit in 30 minutes, great! Science shows that even a little exercise is better than no exercise. It can help lower your risk of heart disease, plus it will contribute to healthy habits and the right mindset. And hey, you might even find you like it and want to do more. But the best news? There are thousands of great ways to exercise for free, from anything as simple as going for a walk around the block, to doing jumping jacks in your living room, to dancing. YouTube offers short fitness videos as well. You don’t have to sign up for a gym or buy equipment to get healthy exercise. Make the commitment to get off the couch and get moving. (Please consult your physician before beginning an exercise program.)
There’s nothing that will make you really feel that weight loss pride like taking before-and-after photos. Make it a fun weekly thing. Dress up in different outfits. Snap photos of yourself in the same pair of jeans day 1, then each week take a photo of yourself in the same jeans as they get bigger and bigger, while you get smaller and smaller. Upload them in a folder on your computer, or hang them on the walls near your bed. One of the best things to wake up to each morning to keep you going will be looking at pictures of yourself getting tinier each day. You can’t buy that kind of motivation!
When the scale sometimes reflects less-than-what-you-hoped-for results or you find yourself feeling frustrated with the constant need to eat right and stay active, positivity is not only your strongest ally, it is a necessity. There will always be days when you feel like giving up, but remember to tell yourself that tomorrow will be better. Remind yourself of your goals. Go look at your personal progress chart. Visit our Pinterest page and read motivational quotes. Look back at your old photos. These things are quick and simple to do, but they make a world of difference in assisting you with keeping the right mindset when it comes to staying on track with your New Year’s weight loss goals.
Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most important, and that’s where this tip comes in. While keeping track of your calories, exercising and attitude are all vital, understanding that the change you are implementing extends to all aspects of your life is also crucial. Studies show that health and happiness are intrinsically linked, and that people who lead healthier lifestyles are more likely to lead meaningful, long lives, filled with positive relationships. Changing your eating habits and exercising goes beyond just getting a new body; it contributes to you loving yourself more and feeling that jubilation so necessary to overall well-being.
Every weight loss goal you achieve warrants congratulations. Each pound lost is exciting and a sign of success that deserves a big pat on the back. To ensure you are patting yourself hard enough, make sure you plan rewards that mean a lot without giving back in to old, unhealthy food temptations. Don’t use food as a reward. Anything you enjoy, other than food, is a great way to acknowledge your accomplishments. For example, if at the end of week 1 you lose those two pounds you were hoping to lose, be sure to do something fun to celebrate. Head to the movies. Schedule a massage. Relax at a day-spa. Buy yourself a new pair of shoes. Rewards that don’t involve food are a great way to not only recognize how far you’ve come, but also to ensure that you keep going. Plus, they make you feel good – and in the end, that’s what it’s really about.
Caitlin is a journalist by trade and an avid runner. She is passionate about maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle and encouraging people to engage in common-sense eating. Caitlin believes a well-rounded life is all about balancing fitness with nutrition that incorporates all aspects of food and proper portion-sizes.