10 Tips for Healthy Resolutions, All Year Long

Created by: By: Sarah Koeninger, RD, LD

Many people think of a new year as a way to start fresh and make improvements in specific areas of their lives. The thing is, change is not easy –it takes time to develop new behaviors. Here are 10 Tips that will help you as you plan for a new year and a new you.

  1. Think of willpower like a muscle. You need to build it up and keep using it in order to maintain it. Use it or lose it! Keep in mind that like a muscle, you shouldn’t overwork your willpower. Taking a day to rest from your resolution is responsible. That way, you can come back to tackle it with renewed energy!
  2. Take one step at a time. Instead of making multiple resolutions, choose one and stick to it. If you feel you’re succeeding, you can add onto it. The best way to do this is to…
  3. Break it down. Think of your resolution in terms of parts of a whole. Then, take on those parts one at a time to reach your goal. Let’s take weight loss as an example. The path to healthy, sustained weight loss could mean changing eating behaviors, such as what you eat, how often you eat, how much you eat and when you eat. A weight loss goal may also incorporate physical activity, which can be broken down by type, amount, intensity and frequency. Consider which steps you’re ready to take and which ones you feel confident that you can do. It’s okay to start small with simple goals, then slowly add new goals once you’ve achieved the first one.
  4. Lift your spirits. A good mood can help you when your willpower muscle is feeling a bit fatigued. Pick a lighthearted break to act as a short rest period, helping you refocus and keep working towards your resolution. Whether it’s watching a funny video online or calling a friend or family member to catch up, find a way to smile or laugh each day.
  5. Be realistic and grade on a scale. Perfection is not always possible, so rather than resolving to always be working at 100%, give yourself a break and accept that doing your best is what’s important. Also, rather than setting a resolution like “never eat dessert,” try wording it with a restriction like “I’ll have dessert only 2 times per week.”
  6. Make an accomplishment list. Keep your list handy and refer to it when you’re feeling frustrated. Remind yourself of those things you have done that prove you have self-discipline. Think of your daily “wins” instead of just focusing on when you felt like you missed the mark.
  7. Be your own superhero. Determine what gives you a special boost! Maybe you feel good when you donate time or goods to charity, help out a friend or keep your workout going for an extra five minutes. Practice behaviors that make you feel strong, whether that strength is physical, mental or emotional.
  8. Visualize your goals. Spending just a little time now and then to visualize what it will be like when you achieve your goal can be a great motivator. Think about what you’ll look like and feel like when you lose those 20 pounds, or how the sand will feel between your toes when you save enough to take that tropical vacation. You can also use photos to inspire you and help feed your motivation.
  9. Know your limits. It’s important to know when you’ve pushed your willpower muscle to its limit. Stress can wear you down, so before you reach the edge, remove yourself from the situation or remove the temptation from your immediate area. Trying to quit smoking? Don’t keep a pack close by and don’t accompany others when they’re heading outside to smoke. If you’re trying to lose weight and are too tempted by empty calories, do not have them readily available. Making yourself take extra steps makes you less likely to fall victim to temptation.
  10. Set a timeframe. A race is easier to run if you know where the finish line is, so give yourself a deadline to help you meet your resolution. Get a pen and paper and plot out where you want to be each month. Think about what obstacles you may have and plan ways to avoid them.

Regardless of what your resolution is, keep your focus on taking it one step and one day at a time. Before you know it you’ll be steady moving towards your goal!