A New Approach to an Old Habit


by Edna Cox Rice, RD, CSG, LDN

Are you in the habit of making New Year’s resolutions? Yes?! Well you are not alone. Some 46% of Americans look forward to the New Year as another chance for a fresh start! Traditionally, New Year’s Day is the ideal time to kick off this new phase in life and reinvent ourselves. Many of us use the start of the New Year as a long overdue excuse to get rid of bad habits and make a list of resolutions. Don’t set yourself up for failure in 2017 by vowing to change everything on your list. It may be time to take a look at your approach to resolutions!

The list of New Year’s Resolutions usually includes at least one of these changes: lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, or spend more time with family. The concepts are great ideas, but undertaking even one of these goals, such as losing weight can be overwhelming. While a lot of people end up breaking their resolutions, research shows that making resolutions is useful. What is the secret to success? People who have specific goals are ten times more likely to attain them than those who do not.

It’s all about the approach. First, choose the area of your life that you want to change first. If weight loss tops your list, focus on starting healthy habits rather than weight loss. Make one change at a time. Decide on one new behavior to incorporate into your life; devote 30 days to developing this healthy habit. When you feel like this change is permanent, move on to the next goal.

Instead of vague goals, like lose weight and be healthier, develop a plan. Instead of thinking about moving away from a bad habit, think about moving towards a healthy change. Here are a few approaches to try.

Eat Healthier, every week throw out one processed food – replace cookies and chips with an apple, carrot sticks or other fruits and veggies. You’ll decrease calories, fat, sugar and sodium, and reap benefits from the increased fiber, vitamins and minerals from these healthier choices.

Decrease Sugar Intake, decrease soda consumption from 3 cans to just 1 can daily – drink unsweetened tea or water instead. You save 360 calories daily, 2500 calories weekly! That’s almost 9,000 calories monthly that you did not consume! You’ll lose several pounds monthly!

Dine Out Less, try a new healthy recipe weekly. Cook a healthy soup on the weekend to enjoy during the busy week. Use the slow cooker for a healthy meal ready at the end of the day. Cook more than you need, freeze some to serve later. Dining in not only helps you save big on calories, but saves on cash as well.

Reduce Fat Intake, switch from whole milk to reduced fat milk. Results in a monthly savings of around 3,000 calories. Enough to lose at least one pound!

Whatever lifestyle change you want to make, consider these steps along the way:

Single Task. Decide to change one thing at a time. Set clear, specific goals. Devote one month to one specific goal before taking on another. Soon, the habit will be second nature. Then you’ll be inspired to add another change. Down-size expectations, go for less and get more!

Write it Down. Commit your goal to paper. Writing down your goals helps to keep you focused on them. Add your goal to your daily “To Do List”; check it off your list when completed. Record your progress and successes daily. Write down what you eat; write down when you exercise. Daily journaling will help keep your goal and progress in front of you.

Celebrate Successes. Acknowledge each success and plan to reward yourself when you achieve each goal.

Make 2017 different. Set realistic goals – make one change a month. Twelve small changes can make a big difference for a happier, healthier you. At the end of the year, raise a glass and toast your successful New Year’s Resolutions!