By Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN for Fresh Express
It’s a new year, and if you’re like almost half of Americans, you’ve made some resolutions to lose weight and stay fit and healthy. Give yourself a pat on the back for deciding to make changes for a healthier lifestyle! But before you dive in and modify a bunch of habits at once, sit down and find out how you can achieve these lifestyle changes successfully.
- Don’t go on a “diet.” The NY Times best selling diet books and the fads you most often hear about may lead to quick weight loss, especially in the beginning, but research shows that slow, healthy weight loss is what lasts.
- Set long-term and short-term goals that are attainable. Goal setting is an important tool to use to help you progress on your road to a healthier lifestyle. In order to achieve the dietary and lifestyle changes you are striving for, it is important that you establish one to two long-term goals that are as specific as possible. For example, it is more reasonable to make a long-term goal to lose 15 pounds in 3 months than to set a goal to lose 50 pounds this year. Once you have long-term goals in place, make a few short-term goals that will help you get there. These goals should also be specific and ones you can measure for success. For example, “I will eat 3 servings of fruit every day this week.”
- Build a fan club. Studies have shown that social support helps people stick to their healthy lifestyle goals and maintain their weight once they reach their weight-loss goals. Set up a Facebook fan page or start a Twitter hashtag to have friends and followers join you on your healthy lifestyle trail.
- Fit in activity every day. What you eat is only one part of the equation for achieving a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is a key factor that must be added daily. Whether it’s walking around the block for 10 minutes three times a day or taking a kickboxing class at the gym after work, any workout will be worth it – weight loss, stress relief, and better sleep are just some of the benefits!
- Plan for setbacks. It’s not pessimistic to think about what happens when you slip up; rather, it’s the most realistic outlook you can have when trying to achieve lifestyle goals. Identify potential roadblocks and strategies to deal with them before they arise. For example, dining out for your birthday may throw you off the wagon, but you can get right back on the next day, or even at the next meal, if you decide ahead of time what you will allow yourself to indulge in for the special day.
- Moderation is key. Any behavior change can be achieved if you have the right mindset and don’t go to extremes. The odds of being satisfied with your success if you take an all-or-nothing approach to get there are slim. More likely, you will feel restricted and over time you will have a difficult time maintaining that success. Instead, remember that making moderate changes allows you to reach your goals without sacrificing the things that make your life pleasurable.