So, here you are with another holiday approaching and you’re still feeling fat from the New Year. Why? Because you haven’t slowed it down since Christmas. You made all kinds of New Years resolutions to loose weight, but they only carried you as far as mid January.

You’ve over indulged again and you’re not feeling too good about yourself.

You know you need to change your eating habits, but it’s hard. Sometimes you skip breakfast and by lunch you’re starving, so you grab a Snickers and keep rolling. Then there’s the working through lunch routine. By the time you get off work you’re like a caged animal looking for food, so you stop on the way home for some fast food to hold you over.

If you’re wondering why this is always happening to you, let’s reason together. It’s s really quite simple, the reason you’re stuck in these same maladaptive patterns is because you’ve established a bad habit and you don’t have the skill set to break it.

If you want to start the New Year off by kissing that fatty feeling good-bye once and for all, you have to start noticing some things.

Here are a few:

You have to slow down
Most of us blow through the day without conscious awareness of the habits we’ve established and how they have affected our health and well-being. Take time to observe your daily habits around food and eating. Take a couple days and journal when, where, and how you eat. It will tell you a lot on the front end of things and help you plan to make the necessary changes.

Work the plan
If you have a plan you’re more likely to succeed than if you’re just throwing mud against the wall hoping it will stick. Construct a plan of action around your meals and snacks.

You have to eat this not that
If you’re stock piling Snickers like a squirrel as your go to snack, try switching it up. It makes sense that if Snickers are all that’s there; you’re going to eat them. But if you have a healthier choice available you may just eat that. A healthier snack doesn’t have to mean something that tastes like cardboard. Make it something you like. If you’re a sweet freak, take some granola along. If it’s not something you really like, you won’t stick to it, which will sabotage establishing a new routine.

Change things up
In order for change to stick, you have to keep at it. The key is to make the changes easy. I make a green smoothie because I love greens (I know I’m weird) and I love fruit. I stick it all in my VitaMix and I’m done in minutes. Think through how you can make changes that are easy and fit your lifestyle; do some planning on the front end. You won’t carry through with something that’s too labor intensive.

Find your motivator
As a therapist who works with a lot of disordered eating clients, I have found that unless there is a strong motivator, people won’t stick to anything. Nothing is ore important than your heath, so start thinking about why that might be a good reason to change up your diet and lifestyle. There are plenty of reasons people want to lose weight, but they easily lose focus of them. Try writing your goals down on card, put something on the fridge so you can be reminded daily of your motivators. People who write things down are statistically more apt to succeed.

Stop
It’s never too late to stop a bad pattern and replace it with a good one. I have people tell me all the time “Well, I ate four cookies so I figured I blew it and kept on going.” NO! Anywhere in the cycle you can chose to STOP and do something different. That’s a victory.

Reward yourself
If I couldn’t eat chocolate everyday I’d be a hot mess. Dark chocolate is actually good for you, so I decided to start eating that instead of milk chocolate. I soon developed a love for it. Now I can eat something that I love and something that is good for me in small doses. Without a reward to your routine, you won’t stick with anything.

Change starts with motivation for sure, but when motivation wears off you need something solid like discipline to keep you going. Start today by implementing some of the aforementioned strategies and see if that doesn’t kick start your New Year.

Back at you: What have you found that works to help motivate you toward a healthier lifestyle?

Author's Bio: 

Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in the Northern Virginia/DC area. She is the host of Heartline Podcast and Consider This. Her show airs on several radio stations as well as the Internet. They can be downloaded from www.ritaschulte.com/category/podcast or heard on Women’s Radio Network, as well as iTunes at Heartline Podcast. Rita writes for numerous publications and blogs. Her articles have appeared in Counseling Today Magazine, Thriving Family, and Christianity Today, Kyria. Her book on moving through the losses of life will be released in Fall 2013 by Leafwood Publishers. Follow her at www.ritaschulte.com, on FB http://www.facebook.com/RitaASchulte and twitter @heartlinepod.