Yes, it’s that time again. Time to look back on the past year, take stock of what you have or haven’t accomplished, and make your New Years’ Resolution that will magically transform your life… for at least 3 days. Yes, as I am sure you are aware, the vast majority of New Years’ resolutions get left behind and forgotten when real life kicks in. So while losing weight, eating better, reading more, or spending less may be admirable goals, saying on January 1, “I’m going to do this!” is not likely to be the best way to effect change in your life.
Why not? What is wrong with New Years’ resolutions? Typically, they are not SMART goals. SMART refers to goals that are:
So let’s look at a NY resolution of “losing weight”. That is not a very specific goal, for starters. How much? How fast? What happens when you reach that goal? While weight is obviously measurable, what makes a measurable loss for you? “Losing weight” is not an actionable goal; what are you going to do to lose weight? Weight loss is a complicated matter, and your personal ability to lose weight, or at least lose a major amount of weight, may or may not be realistic (sorry). Finally, there needs to be a time-goal. Where is your finish line?
If you are serious about making a major lifestyle change this year, the best way is going to be to sit down and contemplate these 5 points in regards to your goal. Realize that change does not happen automatically, or easily. Your actual New Years’ resolution should be to embrace the effort that will be required to make the change you want to see.
Look at “eating better”– that is a typically broad New Year’s resolution. Let’s make it a SMART goal:
- First, define “better”. A good specific goal might be to eat fruits and vegetables at every meal.
- Next, decide on how you will measure. Precision Nutrition defines a serving of vegetables as fist-sized, and fruit as a cupped handful. How many of those servings will you consider a success?
- The action, of course, is to eat them, but even this needs some thought. Do you like fruits and vegetables? Do you know how to cook vegetables in enjoyable, and reasonably healthy, ways? Do you need to spend a couple weeks learning what you like before you officially “begin”?
- For me, eating a lot of fruit, and any vegetables, at breakfast just isn’t going to happen. So I have to include more at lunch and supper, and smoothies in the afternoon. What is realistic for you? Do you have time at work to eat a big salad? Or is there more time in your morning routine to make a veggie omelet?
- I would HIGHLY suggest, if you are not a big fruit and veggie eater, you don’t go all in at once. Your digestive system may not react in a manner that you will appreciate. Perhaps set the first month’s goal as eating more at breakfast, second month more at lunch, third month more at dinner, and fourth month including smoothies. Or, include a small serving at each meal to start, and grow the serving over time. However you would like to work it, make sure you form a plan beforehand and write it down.
Possibly the MOST important thing to remember is to take it slow, and work on building habits over time, instead of expecting immediate change, then getting frustrated when you don’t keep up with it, and then giving up all together until next January.