Happy New Year! It’s time to ring in the New Year! For years, people have been using this special occasion as a motivator to drop the weight they have been struggling to lose all year round. As a registered dietitian, I encourage my clients to steer clear of New Year’s resolutions in order to avoid disappointment in oneself. You may have the best of intentions when you resolve to lose weight or exercise more as the New Year begins, but somehow, life happens and you often find yourself going back to your old ways. Instead, this year believe that it’s always the right time to make healthy, life changing goals for yourself.

If you are one of those people who need to “start over” with each New Year, then let’s try a different approach for 2013! This New Year, instead of making a diet and weight loss resolution, try and focus on improving your health by making weekly nutrition and fitness goals. Decide what goal you will work towards for the coming week, and go for it! Log your progress and check in with yourself mid-week and at weeks end. If you want to repeat the goal the following week, go ahead. Or, pick another nutrition or fitness goal for the coming week.

Don’t look at this year’s resolution as a temporary change; look at it as a lifestyle change. Making too many changes at once can cause you to burn out before the end of January, and cause you to break your commitment. Therefore, instead of changing your entire way of living all at once, try making these small changes everyday. Work your way SLOWLY to a healthier you.

Try some of these nutrition and fitness goals for the coming year and you’ll see how great you feel.

1. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Every day add a new fruit or veggie to your menu. Eat it raw or try it in a new recipe. Test out different cooking methods with your vegetables. Some examples are roasting, steaming, baking, and BBQing your veggies.

2. Switch to 100% whole grain. If you’re still eating white bread and pasta, slowly switch to whole grains. Whole grains contain more fiber and nutrients and will keep you fuller for a longer period of time. If you are having a hard time making this change, then compromise. For example, if you’re making a pasta dish, make it half with whole wheat pasta and half with regular pasta until you develop a taste for 100% whole wheat.

3. Portion control. Work your way to smaller portions! This will help control your calorie consumption. If you typically use a big dinner plate and fill the whole plate, try using a smaller size plate. You may eat more than what you need to be satisfied if you have a pile of food sitting in front of you.

4. Focus on MyPlate. Make a pact with yourself to follow the MyPlate method. When filling your plate, half should be vegetables and fruit and the other half should be divided between a serving of grains (about a ½ cup) and a serving of protein (3-4 ounces, about the size of a deck of cards).

5. Limit the sweets. No one says you need to avoid all sweets. The key is moderation. If you enjoy dessert and sweets several times a day, make a goal for yourself to limit sweets to either once per day, or even once or twice a week. Limiting your sweets may even help you lose your craving for it! Small, measurable goals are the key to success.

6. Swap out the soda and juice. These beverages are loaded with sugar and greatly contribute to your daily caloric intake. Eliminating just one can of soda a day (12 ounce can = 120 calories) can save you about 13 pounds a year! And let’s be honest; most people don’t only drink a can a day. So imagine how many extra pounds in one year are contributed from soda alone. Again, slowly make a goal to eliminate these empty calories by limiting your intake to one cup each day, then one cup every other day etc. Substitute water with a squeeze of lemon or lime for a refreshing beverage.

7. Begin a walking program. Commit to a daily walk, either first thing in the morning or after dinner. Start off slowly and gradually build up your speed and distance. Find a walking buddy to keep you company.

8. Schedule your workouts. Just like you schedule a doctor’s appointment or a lunch date with a friend, schedule your workout on the calendar and make it a part of your routine.

9. Plan YOU time. Make sure you are taking care of your basic needs such as eating and sleeping. It is very important to practice self-care so all your basic needs are met. It will then be easier to listen to what your body needs in terms of food and exercise.

10. Practice Mindful Eating. Since you have vowed not to diet this year, practice being mindful when you are eating. Listen for your hunger and fullness signals and respond appropriately. Don’t eat when you are not hungry, yet don’t let yourself get to the ravenous point either. When eating, stop midway and ask yourself if you are still hungry. If not, stop and save the rest for another time.
One step at a time. That’s the way to achieve your goals in the New Year. Leave the quick fix diets behind. Making small changes over the next year will free you from dieting and have you living a healthy life in no time.

Author's Bio: 

Bonnie R. Giller helps chronic dieters and people with medical conditions like diabetes take back control so they can get the healthy body and life they want. She does this by creating a tailored solution that combines three essential ingredients: a healthy mindset, nutrition education and caring support. The result is they lose weight and keep it off without dieting and live a healthy life symptom free.

Bonnie is a Registered Dietitian (R.D.), Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist (CDN) and Certified Diabetes Educator (C.D.E.) with specialized training in Intuitive Eating. She offers programs for the chronic dieter to achieve long lasting weight loss, for people with diabetes to attain blood sugar control and prevent diabetes complications, and for those suffering with irritable bowel syndrome to identify their food triggers so they can enjoy a symptom free life. Bonnie also treats a variety of other medical conditions, and offers a nutrition program teaching young children how to make healthy food choices.

Get a copy of Bonnie’s Free Guide, 5 Steps to a Body You Love without Dieting at www.DietFreeZone.com, and learn about her many programs, presentations and cookbooks by visiting her website at www.brghealth.com.