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How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution to Lose Weight

New Year’s Eve is usually one of the highlights of winter break. Home for the holidays, it’s a night of guaranteed plans and a reason to buy a sparkly new outfit. When that ball drops you clink glasses with your friends, wish everyone around you a happy New Year, and maybe even plant one on the cute guy standing next to you. After all the hype settles down, the New Year also brings about the motivating “New Year’s Resolution”. You can’t help but set your sights high; break a lifelong bad habit, get straight A’s, make changes in your relationships, or the ever-popular promise to yourself to lose weight. The thousands of weight loss commercials that plague every channel on television immediately following New Year’s Eve can be helpful to start the year off on the right foot, but the motivation only lasts so long. It’s an all too familiar routine. During the first week of January you hit the gym every day, eat healthy and stay active. Week two rolls around and you’re finding better things to do, but still frequenting the gym while having the occasional discouraging pig out session on leftover holiday sweets. When that dreaded third week of January rolls in, you’re forgetting what your resolution was exactly. So how can you break this routine and stick to your resolution to whip your body into shape? Her Campus spoke with registered dieticians Dianna Branning and Tanya Horacek to come up with some easy pointers to stick with your New Year’s resolution to lose weight!

Set realistic goals
There is nothing more discouraging then seeing little to no results when you set a goal to lose weight. Losing weight in a healthy way takes time and persistence. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to lose five pounds a week or lose all the weight by the end of January. Focusing on how many pounds you’re losing is not the best way to go about getting fit. Set week-by-week realistic goals of what you are going to do instead of how much you are going to lose, such as going to the gym 3 or 4 times a week and only having one small dessert per day. The more realistic your goals are, the less likely you are to get discouraged.  These goals, in turn, will lead to the weight loss you want to see. Aside from weight loss goals, it is important to set goals for an attitude change as well. Horacek says that rather than focusing on the number on the scale, make some changes to your lifestyle that will be noticeably different.
Try adding a few of these new behaviors into your new year:

  • Exercising 3 to 5 days a week
  • Packing a lunch or making your own snacks rather than eating out
  • Cooking dinner instead of eating out
  • Buying fresh produce from a local farmer’s market
  • Eating at least 1 to 2 servings of fruit and vegetables a day
  • Taking time to nourish your mental health as well, such as through yoga, meditation or keeping a journal

Find an accountability partner
Whether it is your parents or a friend with similar goals, telling someone you’re trying to make some lifestyle changes will make it much harder to slip up. Inform your partner of how you plan on losing the weight, whether it is working out a certain number of times per week, eating healthier or a combination of the two and ask your partner to check up on you once or twice during the week and at the end of every week. Receiving a small text or a friendly reminder that you are not the only person who knows of your goal will help you to stay motivated. Exercise physiologist Adam Shaffran says, “Most people put all their effort into finding the right diet or exercise program but don't put any energy into creating a support and accountability system, and too often, that's where the devil lies.” For specifics on the importance of an accountability partner and for qualities to look for when choosing one, check out this WebMD article!
Reward yourself
Setting small rewards for yourself after you meet small goals can be extremely encouraging. Buy a calendar and place it in plain sight, such as in your bathroom or by your bed, and mark days that you will reward yourself along with what the reward will be. For example, if you go to the gym as much as you say you will, then on Sunday, treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure or a nice lunch! As it gets further in the month and harder to stay motivated, make the rewards bigger. For the third of fourth week, write on the calendar a promise to yourself to buy the shirt you’ve had your eye on, a new workout outfit or go get a massage, (first time massages at Massage Envy are only $39!). If you are looking for ways to reward yourself without spending money, make your own facemask and create an in-home spa treatment, cuddle up and watch all your favorite movies or promise yourself you will sleep until your eyes open!

Remind yourself that slipping up is no reason to quit
You’re not going to be perfect, no matter how motivated you are. You cannot expect yourself to hit the ground running and never slow down. Whether it be at a dinner party with irresistible deserts, your roommates bringing unhealthy and delicious snacks back from home, or having a sudden craving for fast food, you will most like mess up at least once. It’s going to happen, and when it does, start the next day—or ideally the next meal—just as motivated as you were before. When these slip-ups happen, it does not mean that you undid everything you had worked for. Dinner at Taco Bell and a large frozen yogurt for dessert does not cancel out two weeks of working out and should not prevent you from going to the gym in the morning. Expect to mess up every now and then, but don’t let it put an end to your motivation and goals. Branning also suggests that if you know there is a food you just can’t live without, work it into your food plan, just don’t get greedy!
Write your goal down somewhere visible
Lipstick and whiteboard markers come off mirrors easily, so write down your goal on your bathroom mirror so you see it every day, as you get ready. A daily reminder that you’re working for something will make it easier to be conscious of what you are eating and doing throughout the day. You can even add results that you are seeing as time progresses if you need a little extra encouragement! Try writing a countdown such as the amount of days until spring break or sayings to boost your determination like these: “Today is a new day!”, “Sticking to it!” or “This is the year!”


Stay healthy—deprivation can lead to destruction
If you start the New Year with losing a lot of weight quickly as your goal, chances are you won’t stick with it very long. Branning suggests that you spend some time educating yourself on the nutritional value of the foods you are eating. Be wise with how you spend your calories and figure out how you can get the most “bang for your buck (or in this case, calorie).” Branning recommends spending some time on websites such as Eat Right to learn about the foods you are consuming. Horacekalso adds that it is very important to take time and listen to your body. Paying attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues can prevent overeating. It will also be beneficial for you to think about your drinks—the miscellaneous Pumpkin Spice Latte or cocktail can really add up (find out just how much here!).
The New Year is an excellent time to change some habits and get into shape. Although it is easy to forget your resolution by February, there is no reason why you shouldn’t make 2011 the year you set your goal, and stick with it!
Dianna Branning, Registered Dietician
Tanya Horacek, Registered Dietician
American Dietic Association
Massage Envy

Jessica Schwartz is a freshman Pre-Journalism major at the University of Texas at Austin with plans to pick a focus in broadcast journalism or print magazine journalism. Born and raised in Orange County, California, she loves horses, The Office, her family, travelling, and frozen yogurt. She has interned for the Orange County Register in the Arts and Entertainment section and hopes to join the Texas Tribune staff in the near future. On campus, she is involved with Campus Crusade, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, is a Campus Ambassador, and possibly the biggest Longhorn fan around! Jessica hopes to land a job in the journalism field after college, but for, she now dreads the idea of ever having to leave UT.
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