Published on December 30th, 2015 | from CAMH

Setting healthy goals for the New Year

By Christina Zavaglia, Dietitian at CAMH

It’s that time of the year again. Holiday parties have been in full swing, complete with an endless array of festive desserts, drinks, and turkey dinners with all the trimmings. And while it’s fun and festive, this is also the time when people start to think about goals and resolutions for the New Year.

It isn’t surprising that the most common New Year’s resolutions include losing weight, exercising more, and eating healthier. Although we all have good intentions, studies show that only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions are actually successful in achieving their goals (according to a 2015 Statistic Brain Research Institute study).

So how can you increase your odds of success? Here are some tips and strategies that dietitians use to help people stick to their goals and see results.

Start small
Small changes can add up over time. A small change is usually much easier to stick with than something radical and can help you reach your lifestyle goals in the long run. For example, if you are trying to decrease sugar, you may want to try changing your Tim Horton’s double double coffee to a single sugar before completely eliminating it. This small change results in a decrease of 7g of sugar daily and 28 calories. Do this for one month and you will have saved yourself 210g of sugar and 840 calories.

Use the strategy of setting SMART goals. For those new to the term, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-Frame. Using this strategy can help you focus on specific behaviours that you want to change and make them achievable. Saying you want to “eat more vegetables,” “exercise more,” and “eat-out less” are too broad. Focus on something more specific, such as ‘three times a week at lunch, I am going to eat one serving (1/2 cup) of vegetables.

Set yourself up for success
Setting a goal that is too big, can set you up for failure. Start with something small that you know you can achieve and go from there. Set between 1-3 goals at a time. When you are successful, celebrate and reward yourself! Do something you enjoy, like get a massage or go to a sporting event, or try something new.

Pair up
Do you have a partner, friend, or loved one with a similar goal to you? If so, share your resolutions and support one another. This can help keep you accountable and may help you stay motivated. Engaging in physical activity with a partner or cooking a meal at homes with friends instead of eating out are fun ways to socialize and support one another to achieve your goals.

Write it down
Try writing down your goals and placing them in a spot where you see them often, such as on the fridge or near the computer screen. This will serve as a reminder to you. Numerous studies have shown that people who right down their goals, are more likely to achieve them.

What are your resolutions for 2016? Have you been successful in the past?

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One Response to Setting healthy goals for the New Year

  1. Karen Pottruff says:

    Practical common-sense goals for a healthier 2016!

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