Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Healthy Approach to New Year's Resolutions

By Bridget Sandorford of

ResolutionsThe new year signals the perfect time for most people to start making positive changes in their lives to meet their goals. Coming right after the festive holiday season, it's also the perfect time for most people to start thinking about how to eat healthier, exercise more or lose some of that weight they gained by doing a little too much celebrating. However, many people make big plans to get healthy or fit at the start of the year and set themselves up for failure after only a few months.
Here are a few tips for how you can take a healthy approach to your new year's resolutions so that you are able to meet your goals:

Start Small
Many people set their sights too high when setting their weight loss goals at the beginning of the year. Most want to lose 10, 20, or 30 pounds not over the course of the year, but within a matter of a few weeks or even a few months. Some want to lose more weight in less time and will resort to extreme diets or other extreme measures to do so.
Setting unrealistic goals like these is setting yourself up for failure. Instead, focus on setting and achieving small goals. Once you've lost 10 pounds, you can reassess the need for more weight loss and then focus on losing another 10 if it's needed -- and so on. Set realistic goals in a realistic time frame, and you will be setting yourself up for success.

Focus on One Thing at a Time
It is easy to become overzealous in your goal setting. You decide you want to be fit and healthy, and you want to do it NOW. However, taking on too much at once is a sure recipe for failure. Instead, focus on setting one goal and achieving it before you set another.
Therefore, you should avoid the trap of setting goals like not eating ANY junk food, or cutting out sugar AND running your first 5k AND stopping smoking. Instead, try a goal like cutting out your morning donut to start, or just working on stopping smoking to start. Once you've stopped having the donut, you can move on to cutting out sodas or fast food. Once you've stopped smoking, you can move on to running more. By focusing on one thing at a time, you make it easier to make lasting changes for yourself.

Add, Don't Subtract
If you start cutting out too much from your diet -- sugar, sodas, coffee, junk food, etc. -- you can start to feel deprived and rebel by binging or cheating. By focusing so much on all the things you can't have, you start to want them more. Instead of focusing on what to cut out of your diet, focus on what you can add in: healthy fruits and vegetables, lean meats, nuts, whole grains, and lots of fresh water.
Instead of cutting out foods from your diet, start adding more healthy foods. You'll make less room for the unhealthy stuff, and you won't feel deprived.

Focus on the Bigger Picture
There is much more to your health than looking good in a bikini. Don't focus so much on simply losing weight. Instead, focus on improving your eating habits, becoming more fit, reducing stress, and getting more sleep. Do these things because you want to feel better and live longer, not because you want to impress someone at your next class reunion. You'll feel more motivated to succeed, and you'll create healthy lifestyle changes that will stick with you.

This year, resolve to make real changes -- not just another new year's resolution. Try these healthy approaches to your resolutions, and you'll see a whole new you in the new year.
What are your new year's resolutions for 2013? Share them in the comments!

Bridget Sandorford is a freelance writer and researcher for, where recently she’s been researching culinary arts institutes. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.