Get Into Gear for the New Year

By Megan Madden, MS, RD, CDN

I’m no fortune teller, but I’m 99 percent certain that next month we’ll see a huge spike in the number of Internet searches associated with weight loss and dieting. Actually, Google Trends tells me this happens every January. The phenomenon is probably related to those of us hoping to shed the pounds we gained during the holiday season by making a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier and exercise more.

Yet shortly after we ring in 2013, most of us currently yearning for a fresh start will fall off the proverbial bandwagon and resort back to our more indulgent, less active ways. I find that success is usually hindered by vague or extreme resolutions that are too difficult to carry out.

The More Specific Your Goals Are
The More Achievable They Will Be

If you’re looking to create a resolution that’s built to last, try the tips I’ve outlined below:

Be specific
If you vow you’ll exercise more often, you’re not likely to stick to that plan. Instead, identify the type of exercise you’ll do and how often you’ll do it. How about this one: I will walk for 20 minutes during my lunch break four days per week?

Make it measurable
For example: I will snack on one piece of fresh fruit daily. This technique will let you judge if you’re following through on your commitment.

Set a realistic goal
Instead of saying, I want to lose 50 pounds, aim for one pound per week and take it one step at a time. Losing just 5 to 10 percent of body weight can greatly improve your health. And, this amount can usually be achieved and maintained.

Put it on paper
By writing down your resolution, you turn a mere desire into a concrete goal. You may also want to note why you have this goal, which will help keep you motivated. If you want to lose weight, is it to improve the sleep apnea you’re suffering from? Or is it to be able to keep up with your energetic grandchildren?

Stay positive
Focus on things you can do, rather than things you shouldn’t do. For example, instead of saying, I will not buy breakfast sandwiches on my way to work, pledge to prepare your own breakfast four mornings per week. And if you slip up, go easy on yourself. Refocus by reviewing why you’re committed to your resolution.

Megan Madden, MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian, health counselor and nutrition educator in private practice who helps her clients with dietary changes and improvements of their health. She contributes regularly to radio and television programs. For more information, please visit

The articles written by guest contributors are the sole responsibility of the individual writers in terms of factual accuracy and opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher of this blog.

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