A new year brings fresh and exciting opportunities for all of us. Many people set New Year’s resolutions for themselves, or a promise to do something different in the new year. The most common New Year’s resolutions include losing weight, increasing physical activity, eating more nutritious foods, cutting out cigarettes, drinking less alcohol, reducing stress and improving sleep, according to News in Health.
January is a great time to focus on your overall wellness, especially after the holiday season filled with celebration and indulgence. From family gatherings to parties with colleagues and friends, there is no shortage of fancy cocktails and themed snacks during this time of year. People actually tend to consume 200 more calories per day beginning in the fall, according to NPR. Some professionals suspect this is because our bodies are naturally preparing for days to grow shorter, darker and colder, while others attribute it to more opportunities to consume through social gatherings. Either way, by the end of December, people have said ‘I will start my diet on Monday’ around 52 times, according to Mayo Clinic Health System.
Regardless of your goals in the new year, there are some common strategies that can help set you up for success.
New Year Means New Goals!
Goal-setting is a great way to keep you focused on achieving your health vision. It can provide a feeling of accomplishment and motivation throughout your health journey. However, it is important to make sure your goals are realistic to avoid frustration and ultimately giving up.
Mayo Clinic Health System recommends using the SMART acronym when setting both your long-term and short-term goals:
- Specific — What am I going to do?
You need to have a specific plan in place to start. Take the time to design and research.
- Measurable — How will I track my progress?
You may say, “I would like to lose some weight.” But it would be better if you said, “I want to lose 50 pounds in four months.”
- Achievable — What steps will I take to make this happen?
Set a realistic goal. With the right weight-loss program, 50 pounds may be realistic. Ask the program you’re considering what the average weight loss among participants is after one year. Depending on the program and its weight loss approach, you may need to set a smaller, more attainable goal.
- Relevant — Is this important enough to me to want to do it?
Think positively. Behavior only changes from the positive. Remember there are programs to help you accomplish your goal.
- Time-framed — When will I do this?
Set a specific target date. It is better to pick a date when you have a plan in place.
It can be helpful to also include some “non-scale” goals. These are overall health improvements that result from small life changes. Your weight is only one component of your wellness, and other lifestyle improvements may go unnoticed if you are only focused on the scale. Non-scale goals will help you celebrate the small steps you are taking to feel better, physically and emotionally. Examples from Healthline include:
- Eat more whole foods
- Sit less and move more
- Cut back on sweetened beverages
- Get more quality sleep
- Find a physical activity that you enjoy
- Practice self-care
- Cook more meals at home
- Spend more time outdoors
- Limit screen time
- Try mediation
- Rely less on convenience foods
- Rethink dieting
- Go grocery shopping regularly
- Use healthier household products
- Add more produce to your diet
- Cut back on alcohol consumption
- Be more present
- Take a vacation
- Try a new hobby
- Stop negative body talk
- Visit your doctor
- Take care of your teeth
- Create a sustainable, nourishing diet
Develop an Action Plan
Next, it’s time to develop your action plan. Start by thinking about where you are headed and why you want to get there. You can then focus on how you are going to get there by including specific behaviors that will contribute to your larger goal. For example, you may say you want to lose 30 pounds to be healthier for your family and to do so, you decide to start walking for 30 minutes a day and eliminate fast food from your diet.
Mayo Clinic Health System also recommends preparing for future challenges you may face and how to work through those obstacles. For example, if your goal is to avoid fast food and prepare more meals at home, time could be a potential problem down the line. Think about how you could work through the obstacle of time constraints. Potential solutions could include meal planning and grocery shopping in advance (check out our fall meal-prep guide). By having these counteractive behaviors already in mind, you will be more likely to push through these obstacles and achieve your goals.
Keep in mind how these positive changes you are making will enhance your life. Even small improvements in your daily physical activity and nutrition can help minimize your risk for future disease. According to News in Health, overweight or obese people who lost just 7% of their body weight slashed their risk for diabetes by nearly 60%. Keeping these facts in mind may help you focus on your long-term goals and stay motivated. When you lack reasons to change, it becomes easy to slip into old habits.
Set Up a Supportive Environment
A supportive environment includes both physical and social aspects. If your goal centers around healthy eating, then make sure you get rid of food that doesn’t lead to achieving your goal. If your goal centers around establishing a regular workout routine, then you need to acquire the necessary equipment or sign up for a gym membership. Thinking about these things ahead of time will help minimize hurdles that could lead you off track.
Your social environment is just as important as the physical. News in Health points out that one’s health behaviors tend to mirror those of their friends, family and spouses. Let your social circle in on your goals and think of things you can do together that move you forward in your health journey such as going on walks or cooking at home rather than dining out. Continued commitment is necessary in order to curate a healthy lifestyle, so your friends and family can be a great source of encouragement.
Strategies to Keep Weight Off
The ongoing National Weight Control Registry analyzes the weight loss progress of more than 5,000 adults who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a year or more. One common strategy found among those successful participants was the practice of self-monitoring or tracking. This could be as simple as jotting down what you eat in a day, keeping an exercise log or recording your sleeping patterns. When tracking your progress, focus on convenience. Download a food-tracking app or carry a journal with you where you can easily write things down.
You should also prepare yourself for a setback. Most people slip up at some point and nobody is perfect. Those who are successful in achieving their goals are the ones who get back on track. Look forwards rather than backward and see what you can accomplish in the days remaining.
You don’t have to wait for a new year or the ‘right’ time to start making healthier decisions. The most important thing to do is to start. KC Wellness Center can help you find the best weight loss plan that suits your needs. During a consultation, we will detail your medical history and assess your personal goals. Our patients tell us that they want to look good, feel great and stay healthy, and that’s exactly what we strive to accomplish. We are proud to say that 9 out of 10 of our patients have lost the amount of weight that they wanted and have kept it all off! Many patients have also decreased their blood pressure, watched their Type 2 diabetes disappear, and reversed life-threatening cholesterol readings. We are here to help you lose weight, but also give you the tools to keep it off and be the healthiest version of yourself. To get started on the path to a better you, call us at 816-214-5276 or click here.