Helpful New Year’s Resolution Tips from the Experts

2018 is here, and so is your plan to become a healthier, stronger and better you! Make your healthy New Year’s resolution goal successful by following some tips for success from local health and wellness experts.

2018 is here, and so is your plan to become a healthier, stronger and better you! Make your healthy New Year’s resolution goal successful by following some tips for success from local health and wellness experts.

Healthy Eating: Setting Achievable Goals and Reasonable Timelines

Sheri Maltais, Registered Dietitian, Northwestern Ontario Regional Stroke Network

January is a popular time to get your diet back on track after a holiday season full of gatherings and overindulgences. When goal setting, I encourage clients think about their ultimate outcome then focus on how they’ll get there. Start by reflecting on your current eating habits and identify potential areas for improvement.

A common New Year’s resolution is weight loss. Be realistic. Think of your ideal weight, when was the last time you weighed that? If it was more than a year ago, it will take time to get there. Instead of aiming to lose 50lbs this year, aim to lose 15lbs in the next three months. Then put a plan in place with change ideas that you can test and see what works and what doesn’t. For example, if you realize that you eat more bread products than vegetables your change plan may be to eat five servings of vegetables every day. If the goal is working for you, continue to make it a habit. If the goal is not working for you, consider why. Perhaps it was not realistic given your scheduleso adjust your goal or set a new one.

Other examples of specific goals are: cut the cream and sugar out of your coffee for the next two weeks, or eliminate pop and juiceand drink water instead. Whatever your goal, find out how to make it work for you and remember, it’s never too late to eat healthier.

Physical Activity: Setting Realistic Goals and Enjoying Activity

Kyle Baysarowich, Registered Kinesiologist and Supervisor, Healthy Lifestyles Program at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

Two of the best pieces of exercise goal advice that I can offer are to set realistic goals and to find an activity that you enjoy.

Be realistic: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. For example, setting a goal of jogging five times per week will be difficult to sustain if you are just starting out. It may even result in burnout or injury. Instead, start with something that is achievable at your current state. For instance, ‘This week I will walk 15 minutes each night after dinner’. Once this is achieved and has been integrated into your new routine, then distance, duration, and intensity can be gradually increased.

Do what you enjoy: It is very easy to get overwhelmed with the new fad exercise routine or to get entwined in what your friends and family enjoy doing for exercise.It is important that you choose activities that are going to make you happy. If running is something that you despise, a running routine is not going to facilitate achievement of your exercise goals/targets. Think back to what you loved to do when you were younger or things that interest you now and try those activities. And don’t be afraid to try something new like salsa dancing into your weekly events.

Self-Compassion: Acknowledging Your Humanness Will Help You to Achieve Your Goals

Mandy McMahan, PhD, is a Clinical, Counselling, and Health Psychologist. She works at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and has her own private practice.

Being hard on ourselves is exhausting, especially when it comes to new health goals! Self-compassion is not about letting ourselves off the hook, but it is about acknowledging our humanness. When we stop spending energy on beating ourselves up for mistakes or regrets, we have more energy and capacity to learn and grow from them. Listening to our inner-critic can also preoccupy us to the point that we completely miss out on the moments of success, joy, love, and peace. No wonder life becomes so stressful! 

When it comes to goal-setting, self-compassion is a helpful way to keep us motivated. Once people can practice self-compassion, they are less afraid to fail. And when people are less afraid to fail, they are more likely to start, and that includes your New Year’s Resolution goals. Next time you hear that loud critical voice, ask yourself if it is actually helping you in the situation, or just making it more stressful. Keep working at your goals, and don’t let yourself get you down.