By Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN
Author of The Small Change Diet
It’s a week into the New Year, when everyone is furiously, diligently following their checklist of resolutions. Did you make any? I didn’t. Frankly, I have a problem with New Year’s resolutions. It seems that almost everyone who makes them almost never sees them through; for many the end of good intentions seems to happen rather quickly. Why is that?
I decided to look up the definition of “resolution,” thinking perhaps it’s a word that’s simply misunderstood. According to the dictionary, it can be defined as: 1) decision, 2) determination, and 3) solution. So maybe the problem is that most people are deciding to make too many changes at the beginning of the year, biting off more than they can chew and getting very frustrated when they can’t achieve everything they want.
In my opinion if you must make resolutions, or at least call them that, you should go about it in this manner:
Determine why you need to make a change, such as the need to lose weight so you can fit into your favorite jeans, lower your cholesterol, or prevent a chronic disease. Whatever it is, it can be unique to you, no judgments made.
Create a goal. If weight loss is your goal, set a total realistic amount, but then break it down into weeks. For example, if 20 pounds is how much you need to lose, commit yourself to losing 1 pound per week for 20 weeks. This way when you don’t drop 20 pounds in January, which is unrealistic, you won’t feel like a failure.
Make a plan that includes many steps. It’s one thing to say “I will lose weight in 2012.” Great, but how? Maybe you need to start eating breakfast (Step 1), perhaps you need to bring a snack to work to avoid the vending machine (Step 2), turn the TV off earlier and go to bed so you don’t raid the refrigerator (Step 3), or join a gym or try a yoga class instead of being a couch potato (Step 4).
Record your efforts. Whether it’s a food journal, a fitness journal, or even a sleep journal, write down everyday what you are doing, positive or negative. If you monitor your actions you can easily see where your success and/or failures lay, and use that to keep you motivated. Keeping yourself accountable for your actions is key to success.
Now if you fall off track at any time, you get back up immediately. You don’t need to wait until Jan 2013 to try again—a new change can be incorporated into your life just as easily in March, June, or August. So forget the word “resolution,” especially if it’s becoming synonymous with procrastination, defined as: 1) delay, 2) put off, and 3) postpone.
Bottom line: It doesn’t matter when change happens, as long as it happens.