The tradition of New Years Resolutions inspires many people to vow to Eat Smart, Move More, or Slim Down. But after the thrill of the new year starts to wear off, so does the motivation to keep working on those resolutions. If you want to see your efforts really pay off, you have to keep working until your new lifestyle becomes a habit. These are my 5 best tips for keeping your resolutions and making the healthy changes you want to accomplish.
- B SMART– We’ve talked about SMART Goals before and how they help you be more successful in eating smart and moving more. The extra “B” here stands for Behavior. Make sure you’re focusing on behaviors, like making half your plate fruits and vegetables or taking a 20 minute walk after lunch, and not on the outcomes (weight loss). You are in control of your behaviors, but not the outcome. This will help you not to get discouraged if the scale still won’t budge. You’ll still be healthier if you eat smarter and move more, even if you don’t lose any weight.
- Stay positive– Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t. So instead of saying “I won’t drink any more pop,” reframe your goal to something you’ll do instead, like “I will drink unsweetened tea or water when I’m thirsty.” You’ll be more encouraged by the things you can have instead of feeling deprived when you can’t have something.
- Find Your Triggers– When we form habits, our mind works in a predictable pattern: Cue (trigger) -> Action (habit) -> Reward. Learn to figure out the triggers of the habits you’re trying to change. Then you can rewire the pattern to your new habit. For example, I know that if I get on the computer right after I get home from work, I am more likely to stay glued to the screen than to cook a healthy dinner. I can tweak that pattern by starting on meal prep as soon as I get home from work and save the computer until after dinner.
- Treat Yourself– Remember that last part of the habit pattern? Training our brains isn’t much different than training a dog, so be sure to reward good behavior! The only thing to keep in mind is that food isn’t such a good reward for us, unlike a dog. Things like a new pair of workout shoes, a tennis ball back massage, or even just an encouraging note to ourselves reminds your brain that this new habit is a good thing and to keep doing it.
- Find Your Support– Reading all this may make it sound easy, but making lasting behavior changes is not always new shoes and rainbows. It can be really hard at times to keep going and not give up. This is when having someone else lift your spirits and give you the encouragement to keep going comes in handy. Try finding a workout buddy, a kitchen helper, or someone to call for support. Having your family on board makes a big difference, too. It’s much harder to fight the temptation of the drive through when your kids want chicken nuggets and your significant other doesn’t want to help out with cooking at home. Tell them why this change is important to you and ask for their help in making it happen. They may even join you and reap the benefits of eating smart and moving more with you.
Do you have any other tips to add that have helped keep you motivated to get healthy? Share in the comments!