Want to make this year different? Follow these 5 practical steps from a registered dietitian and holistic nutrition coach to help you make New Year’s health resolutions you can actually stick to!
The statistics about how many people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions vary wildly, but none of them are good. Some say less than half achieve their goals, others claim it’s as low as 8%.
But most of us don’t need research – we only need to look at our own track record to know that resolutions usually fail.
But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. I believe there’s a way funnel all that enthusiasm and desire for a fresh start into resolutions that we can actually keep.
HOW TO MAKE NEW YEAR’S HEALTH RESOLUTIONS YOU CAN KEEP – 5 Practical Steps
Step 1: Temper Your Emotions
Let’s be honest – most New Year’s resolutions are driven by emotion – usually intense emotions like guilt, frustration, shame, and disgust. Emotions are real and should be acknowledged, but they shouldn’t be in the driver’s seat when we’re making resolutions. Instead they should be tempered by objective, rational thinking (Step 2).
TAKE ACTION: Write out all the emotions you’re feeling about the recent holidays and your health in the New Year. Circle the ones that are most closely linked to behaviors that tend to derail your long term health goals.
Step 2: Set a Realistic Resolution
Consider the emotions you circled and the health behaviors associated with them. Resist the temptation to grab the most extreme resolution that comes to mind and instead commit to one that you could realistically achieve and that is in line with your longer term health goals.
This is not a cop out or lowering the bar. This is about setting yourself up for success.
Because we all know that the more unrealistic the resolution, the more likely the failure in February. And what’s even worse than the failure itself are those pesky, self-destructive emotions like guilt and shame that come back with a vengeance. See, I failed again. I knew I would – I always do. I’ll never get past this. Why can’t I just get it together?
TAKE ACTION: Write down a resolution that is both realistic and in line with your longer term health goals.
Step 3: Make a Practical Plan
Now that you’ve settled on a realistic resolution, you need a good plan of action.
Make a list of specific changes you’ll need to make in all major areas of your life on a daily and weekly basis in order to keep your resolution. Will you need to adjust your schedule? Will this change your grocery budget? How will this affect your family and social life?
If the planning stage is overwhelming, consider joining a more structured group program – it may cost a little more than going it alone, but it will make up for it in practical tools, support, and accountability.
TAKE ACTION: List out specific actions you’ll take each day and week to achieve your resolution, or find a group program that has this built in. Keep reading for my favorite group program. 😉
Step 4: Address Root Causes
These last two steps are – in my opinion – where most New Year’s health resolutions fall short.
Beware of resolutions and typical New Year’s programs that just control what you eat or do without challenging you to dig deep into the root causes that got you where you are in the first place.
In my work with clients and in my group program, I’m all about the why because, if you never address that, you’ll never experience deep, lasting, optimal health!
TAKE ACTION: Make a list of questions like the ones above that you can ask yourself as the weeks and months of the New Year unfold.
Why do I immediately turn to food when I’m upset? Why can’t I find an exercise routine I can stick with? Why do guilt and shame hang over my decisions about eating and health? How am I learning to better care for my long term health and not just modify my behaviors temporarily?
Step 5: Incorporate All Key Areas of Your Health
If I could pick one single pet peeve about most New Year’s diets and fitness program, it would be exactly that – they’re just a diet or just a fitness program.
But you are not just what you eat or how much you move. You are a whole person.
And perfecting your eating (or your exercise, or any other single aspect of your health) isn’t enough. In fact, sometimes New Year’s resolutions focus so intensely on one thing, that other areas not only get neglected, they suffer.
For example, if someone is bound and determined to control every aspect of their diet, they can become overly fixated on how much they eat or don’t eat to the point of mental anxiety and damaging their long term relationship with food. Or someone who commits to getting back into shape can become so obsessed with fitting a workout in every single day, they sacrifice sleep and relationships.
TAKE ACTION: Review your resolution and plan of action – will it cause another other area of your health – such as your stress level, sleep, or relationships – to suffer? If so, adjust your resolution and plan so they benefit your whole health!