Motivation for Healthy Habits

Ask Our Dietitian

Dietitian: Susan Hurd

Q: Each New Year I make a resolution to be healthier, but by February my motivation is gone. How can I make my healthy habits stick?

A: You are not alone! An estimated 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions each year, but only 8 percent of them actually reach their goal. This year, you can be a part of that successful group. Resolve to reach your healthy goal—and maintain it—with these simple steps.

R: Reflect. The New Year is often thought to be the time to make big changes, but it really should be a time of reflection. The ability to identify areas of your life for wellness improvement like needing to be more active is crucial before promising to do things differently.

E: Eat as healthfully as you can. Challenge yourself to improve your diet in small ways each day. Switch out white toast and butter for whole grain toast with protein-rich peanut butter, for example.

S: Simplicity is best. Resolutions should be small, specific, and attainable. Instead of telling yourself something as broad as “I’m going to eat healthier in 2015,” try setting a series of mini-goals like eating one fruit or vegetable at each meal or having breakfast at least three days during the week. You are likely to be successful at these small changes, which can add up to big health benefits and help you get closer to your larger goal.

O: Only you know what is right for you. Don’t depend on others to tell you what to do and don’t let others interfere with your goals.

L: Lighten up! Don’t be too hard on yourself if you think you’ve gained weight while you’re working toward your goal. Just because you step on the scale and notice a 1- or 2-pound increase from yesterday doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. For many people, weight can fluctuate every day and at different times of the day. It is better to weigh yourself once per week, preferably at the same time of day with the same amount of clothing to track your progress.

V: View the big picture. As you focus on the small steps, keep in mind that eventually those small steps lead to small achievements, which lead to larger steps and larger achievements. Before you know it, you’ve ingrained healthier habits into your lifestyle and into the bigger picture we call life.

E: Every day, do something good for yourself. Commit to doing at least one healthful act each day. One day it could be a walk outside; the next day it could be making a new recipe without meat. No matter what you choose to do, you’re one day closer to reaching your goal of having a healthier year.

Biography:
Susan Hurd, RD, LDN, regional nutrition manager and wellness champion, sherman district, Sodexo Education, is a registered dietitian with over 25 years of experience in commercial food service, health, and wellness arenas. For the past 15 years, Hurd’s focus has been with college, university, and independent school nutrition. She is registered with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is a licensed dietitian in the state of Pennsylvania. Her vast experience in food and nutrition education enables her to relate the science of nutrition to the general public in an easily understandable format.

References:
University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology on statisticbrain.com accessed 12/10/14

Apa.org accessed 12/10/14

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