Nutrition In yoU: Tips for setting new year resolutions and goals

Happy New Year!

Nearly 60% of us make new year resolutions and the top two involve losing weight through diet and exercise. There are infinitely many ways people go about doing this. However, with only 4% of us achieving our new year resolutions by the end of the year, it seems there is room for improvement. So, as we start this new year, I want to take a moment to discuss goal setting and provide a few tips on how we can make the most of our health-based resolutions.

Tip 1: Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T.

In this case, SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely

To be successful at achieving resolutions, start by breaking them down into smaller, realistic goals. When considering your goal, ask yourself the following questions:

Specific – Can you check the success your goal off of a specific number such as “eating three servings a fruit a day” or “drinking one extra glass of water”?

Measurable – Can I measure my success?

Attainable – Is it realistic for me?

Relevant – Is this goal linked to my resolution?

Timely – Is this something I can accomplish in one week?

If you sincerely answer “no” to any of these questions, consider altering your goal. It is unrealistic for most people to healthfully lose more than one to two pounds a week and if the methods to achieve your weight loss goals mean cutting out an entire food group or meal, then how realistic is in the long run? However, resolving to go meatless one day a week, for instance, might be S.M.A.R.T. for you.

Tip 2: Start small.

Small changes often lead to big results. It is tempting to set a goal like, “I am going to run a mile every day.” This may start off with a hefty amount of motivation and good intent but what happens when life happens? Things like an illness, injury, extra work project, or a trip can easily throw us off of our goal path. Missing a day or two can result in feeling like a failure and ultimately giving up. This kind of “all or nothing” goal can become very detrimental because it allows no room for the human side of life. Instead, start small. Modify your goal to, “I am going to go for a 20-minute run two times this week.” At the end of the week, you can reflect on how it went. You may decide that it was easy and you can alter you goal for the next week by adding an extra day or five more minutes to your run. Eventually, you will find a good balance.

Tip 3: Celebrate your successes

This does not need to involve a full-fledged party, although those are fun. A simple affirmation goes a long way. Perhaps you want to drink more water. After you finish a glass of water, give yourself and audible, “I’m awesome!” and mean it. Or hang a calendar and mark the days you reached your goal. Seeing all of your successes will help keep the motivation going.

If you want help setting and reaching your health-based goals, make an appointment at NIU’s Rec Center to see a Nutrition Coach.

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