New Year’s resolutions centred on health-related goals are among the most common types of pledges that Canadians will be making to themselves at the start of 2018.
Making a commitment to eating healthier, exercising more and managing your weight is an admirable and difficult step and one that I applaud anyone for striving towards.
It’s also important to understand that, unfortunately, the vast majority of people who set New Year’s Resolutions do not necessarily succeed in pulling them off.
There are a number of reasons why could that end up being the case.
One possible explanation is that people may over estimate their readiness change
It’s one thing to make a resolution to eat healthier, but it’s a completely different thing to be truly prepared to implement the changes required to reach that goal.
When it comes to how ready you are to change, there are at least two different types of people
Person #1 – Makes a resolution to change, but has not put in any ground work beyond that
Person #1 knows they need to make a change and resolves to do so, but beyond making that acknowledgement has not done anything else to facilitate their success. Does this sound like you? In order to be successful with their resolution, this individual needs a better understanding of the actions he or she will need to carry out on a consistent basis. This understanding could come from self-research, consulting a professional (such as a dietitian or personal trainer) or seeking guidance from a friend or family member who has had success pursuing a similar goal. If you are actually reading today’s article, you are on the path from being person #1 to becoming person #2.
Person #2 – Makes a resolution to change, and has started planning for success
Person #2 has made the same resolution as person #1, but has also started to do the ground work and planning to put themselves in a better position to succeed. Does this sound like you? You need to keep two things in mind. The first is that you should not be afraid to share your goals and ambitions with those close to you, as the added accountability and support will help. The second is to make sure you set realistic goals and plan in a realistic manner. The next section will help you to do that.
So how do you plan to succeed?
Eating healthy and losing weight are two of the most common resolutions, but they are not easy to achieve. If they were, everybody would have a flawless diet and sit at their own ideal body weight.
But if you are still reading this article, you probably are hungry for success.
So, let’s say you have a resolution that focuses on becoming a healthier version of you.
The first step I recommend taking is to break down your resolution into smaller parts.
Let’s use the general resolution of “A Healthier Me in 2018”
For the sake of argument, let’s break down this resolution into three smaller goals.
- Eating Healthier
Eating healthier is the fundamental component of being healthier. And, in my opinion, the fundamental component of eating healthier, for most people, starts by eating more fruits and vegetables.
Canadian adults should be consuming 8-10 total servings of fruits and vegetables daily where a serving of fruit equates to 1 medium fruit or ½ cup of fruit and 1 serving of vegetables equates to 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked.
Let’s say you currently eat 1-2 servings of fruits and vegetables, a smart short-term goal would be to commit to consuming a minimum of 4-5 servings daily starting the first week of 2018.
In achieving this objective on a daily basis, you are a step closer to success in your overall resolution.
- Exercising More
Physical activity is another integral component of overall good health.
Let’s say , for the sake of argument, that physical activity has 3 primary components: resistance training, cardiovascular training and flexibility.
Let’s also assume you currently do not exercise.
A reasonable goal, to start, would be to devote 45 minutes, 3 days a week to carrying out each type of exercise.
This could mean going for a run one day, doing yoga one day, and lifting weights (or doing body weight exercises) another day.
In achieving this objective on a weekly basis, you are a step closer to success in your overall resolution.
- Weighing Less
Weight loss is probably the most sought after health-related goal that people set for themselves.
In my practice, the majority of my clients come to see me for that very purpose.
The one thing I always stress to my clients is setting realistic, sustainable goals when it comes to losing weight.
So what might that look like? For starters, forget about the long-term objective for a minute.
A healthy short-term objective is achieving a weight loss of about 1 lb a week. That is a sustainable healthy rate of loss that will require you to cut back your current intake by about 500 calories a day.
In the medium term, which I would describe as 4-6 months, the smartest weight loss goal to set is a total loss of 5-10% of your current bodyweight.
So where do you start? I recommend you ask yourself how often you consume the following foods:
Soft drinks, salad dressings, syrups, beer, fruit drinks, oil/butter/margarine, chips and chocolate bars.
The foods identified above, statistically speaking, are among the highest contributors to calories to the average person’s diet coming from foods that we can do without.
So a great first step on your weight loss journey may be to identify the quantities of these foods you consume, and start by halving them on a weekly basis.
Ie: If you drink 10 beers a week currently, set a goal to drink 5 and continue to build from there.
Although the success rate of health-related New Year’s resolution may be low, I still applaud anyone who is serious about making a change for the betterment of their health.
My hope is that the content in today’s article will give you that little bit of extra confidence and direction when it comes to shaping your resolutions and that you are able to carry that forward to aid you in achieving your goals.
A special thank you to anyone and everyone who has been reading my health content this last year, I truly hope you enjoyed it and it has helped you make better choices for you and your family.
I wish you a safe, healthy and happy New Year!
Andy De Santis RD MPH
Andy is a Toronto-based private practice dietitian and nutrition writer/blogger. He also holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Toronto. If you are interested in learning more about Andy and his services, or you’d like to read more of this nutrition content, you can do so at AndyTheRD.com