Have you thought about making any New Year’s Resolutions this year? Have you tried in the past without success and now you say ‘why bother’? Do you feel silly saying your’s out loud – it seems like everyone else is trying to lose weight or get more active or eat better too. So if you keep it to yourself, no one will know if you aren’t able to follow through, right?
Making a list of New Year’s Resolutions is really setting intentions. It’s saying, ‘hey, this is something that I would like to work on to make myself even better’. After all, all successes start with good intentions!
But unfortunately, good intentions alone are not enough to carry you through to success.
Life happens, work gets busy again, kids have activities, you’re juggling all the balls. And once you ‘slip up’ once, it feels like you’re never going to make this happen. Those old habits creep back so easily. Auto-pilot kicks in. Because it’s easier and you’re tired of trying to find all the right information and piece it together in a way that will work for you.
New Year’s Resolutions don’t always work – change is hard
Any change in life can feel really hard sometimes. Think about any reason you’ve had to change your routine in the past. Perhaps your usual route to work was closed for the season due to construction.
Think about all the steps that you needed to think about and how disruptive it felt. Thinking about a new route before you needed to start using it. Re-doing your timings in the morning – maybe waking up at a different time or doing drop-offs in a different order. Figuring out a different place to stop for coffee (and maybe the coffee wasn’t as good as you’re used to!). Then navigating through the unexpected new things that came up each day that were never an issue on your usual route.
We’re creatures of habit. Routine feels safe. Change can feel hard, even when you keep telling yourself “but it’s good for me, I should want to do this.”
A new year, a new me … for sure this time
With a new calendar year, many people feel a sense of starting off fresh. We’ve feasted through the holidays. And now it’s time to start again.
“The diet starts January 1st. And this time I mean it.”
You have really good intentions. You want to live well, feel well and know that you’re nourishing your body well. You want your bloodwork to improve or to lower the amount of medication you’re taking. You want to just lose the weight so you don’t have to be the one on a diet anymore.
Whether you’re making New Year’s Resolutions or goals for any other time of the year, knowing the key places to put your effort can help you create your new habits in a more seamless, efficient and sustainable way.
Ways to create and stick to your New Year’s Resolutions
1. Make or choose a plan for you.
Not just because your friends are doing it or because everyone is on the New Year’s Resolutions bandwagon. Not because someone else is telling you that you need to change. Not because you’re desperate to lose weight and think a different new diet will solve all the things that haven’t worked in the past.
It helps tremendously when your motivation comes from you – no matter what the reason. It also helps tremendously when your plan is personalized to consider your life and wants.
You don’t have to feel like you failed or have no other options if you can’t live with a restrictive diet plan. There are ways to modify any of the popular diets out there to make them fit for you!
2. Acknowledge your small-wins.
It’s really too easy to think about your mistakes. Sometimes this even makes you think that it’s time to jump ship and start a new plan instead of sticking with the tools you’ve already learned.
As we come out of the holiday (over) eating season, reflect on your choices that made you proud. Like when you said no to seconds because you checked in with your hunger and felt comfortably full. Or when you took just 1 bite of a few desserts and let yourself savour the flavours, textures and smells of each. Or when you went for a walk with someone to look at the Christmas lights in your neighborhood instead of sitting on the couch after supper.
Clients often come to a session saying they didn’t do much since our last visit. But once we get talking more, they realize all the things they have done. More importantly, the things they’ve continued to do and that have become habit, without them noticing!
3. Think about what has worked (or not) in the past.
Understand the things about previous plans that helped you stick with them. But also be realistic about the challenges and the reason you’re not still following that plan now.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you want to work on your eating. Some people find that journalling can help them sort through what’s working and to keep on track with that. Whether that’s tracking food choices in some way, or allowing yourself some time to reflect on your eating and writing that down.
4. Tune in to the intention you have for your health and focus on starting there.
Spoiler-alert: it might be losing weight … but it might not be.
Is your biggest concern about your cholesterol or blood pressure or blood sugars? Choose to work on that first! Sometimes this involves a mindset shift.
For example, someone might find themself saying “I want to lose 10 lbs by the end of January” when really their intention is to lower their cholesterol and blood pressure by their next doctor’s visit so they can lower the amount of pills they’re taking. In this case, they might choose to say “I want to make healthful choices in January to eat well and move my body so I can wow my doctor the next time I see her”. Notice the difference in these 2 statements?
Before you continue reading, take a moment here and ask yourself:
- What was 1 moment you can look back on and feel proud about your eating over the past few weeks?
- How did your holiday eating this year compare with other years?
- What can you learn from that and use now as you move forward?
- Before jumping to the goals of losing weight and being more active, what is it you’re hoping to achieve this year with your health?
How to build a healthful plan from your best intentions
Now that you’ve taken a moment to understand what you want for your health, let’s use that intention and build a plan. One that you can tell your friends about and have their support in your journey!
- Set the Foundation for your plan – what is it you really want from your health and for your health?
- Increase your Awareness – what are the things that get in your way? Triggers or influences for your eating? What got in your way with previous attempts at changing your eating?
- Collect your tools – what information do you need to get you started? What resources will help fill in the gaps so your road to change will be less bumpy? Will you track your eating? Do you have a meal-planning strategy in place? (If not, here’s a free one you can download). Will you purchase any books or memberships or equipment, etc?
- Lay out your plan – use the 5 W’s here! What will you do? Why will you do this? Where might you run into challenges? When will you make changes? Who can help you? How will your life be different when you succeed?
- Check back, adjust your plan, continue – this is a big place that people run into problems. It can be a place of high emotions. But without taking the time to look at how your plan has been going, you can’t fix it. Adjusting your plan is NOT a sign of failure. Your plan is meant to change, to flex, to fit your life. If you’re not adjusting your plan, you’re setting yourself up for guilt, disappointment and are more likely to stop.
Change can be easier than you think
Whatever is inspiring you or motivating you to make a change, go with it. Use those good intentions you have and let them guide you toward your better you. Just don’t forget to also lay out your roadmap for how you’ll get there and check in to be sure you’re still on the right course.
Both New Year’s Resolutions and Good Intentions have an important role in helping you create a solid plan for change.
Make this year the year that you take those good intentions and make them a reality. Yes, change can be hard. But with clear intentions, a shift in mindset, and a solid plan you can have the confidence and certainty that this year will be different.
Change can be easier than you think.
If you’re looking for some help with this …
If this time of year feels like the right time to set these intentions in motion, I’d love to help!
Are you the type of person who likes to try things out yourself before getting help with some specifics along the way? You might be interested to download this free Meal-Planning Starter Guide to get you going!
Or are you the type of person who’s ready to start at the beginning by learning tools you can use right away to help your health. To have someone guiding your health journey and providing the strategies you’ll use for years to come. To save time and effort so that you can concentrate on taking one-step-at-a-time toward sustainable habits … instead of searching and wondering what to do first or where to start.
If this sounds like you, you might be interested in learning more about Nourish your Weight. This is my latest program based on what has been helping the people I work with to lower their cholesterol, manage their type 2 diabetes, lose weight while eating more, spend less money on food, sleep better … and more.
Angela Hubbard is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) with 10 years experience working in the field of nutrition. Her work focuses on helping people take back control of their health & weight … before it feels like their health controls their life. In her off time she loves swapping recipes, creating and exploring Northern BC life with her young family.