Registered Dietitian with Interior Health
“People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, when really they should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas”. – Anonymous.
Many of us choose the New Year as a time to set new goals to improve our health. Goals of dieting and weight loss are often on the resolution list. However, a healthy lifestyle is not something that is achieved in only the first month or two of each New Year (and an otherwise healthy lifestyle is not undone by some indulgence during the Christmas holidays). The key to achieving weight loss and overall improved health is by setting goals that are realistic for your lifestyle.
To set sustainable and achievable goals make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
Be specific. If your goal is to lose weight ask yourself how you plan to do that. Break it into several smaller goals that focus on both nutrition and exercise. For example instead of setting the goal to eat healthier, be specific, ‘I will drink herbal tea or water instead of hot chocolate, juice or pop’. ‘I will have plain yogurt with fruit for my mid morning snack instead of a cinnamon bun’. Instead of just making the resolution to lose 20 pounds try setting a specific exercise goal such as ‘I will go for a 20 minute walk on my lunch break three times a week’.
Measure your progress by keeping track of how often you are achieving your goal. Keep a food log or write down how often you exercise.
Choose attainable goals that fit into your lifestyle. If you find it hard to eat a healthy lunch because you are too busy in the morning to pack one, set a goal to pack your lunch the night before, perhaps while your preparing dinner. If you set a goal for exercise, choose activities you enjoy and this will make your goal easier to achieve.
Set realistic goals. These are ones that are reasonable to achieve. Instead of ‘I will never eat dessert again’ try ‘I will limit treats to just once a week or only on special occasions’. Try not to set your sites on trying to drop 30 pounds in one month. Instead set goals for small lifestyle changes that will promote weight loss and keep it off in the long term.
Make your goals timely by setting a time frame for which you plan to start and achieve your goals. ‘Next Monday I will start walking on my lunch break, and by the end of January I will be consistently walking three times per week’.
As you achieve these smaller goals you be implementing lifestyle changes that will promote weight loss and improved health. Happy New Year!