We’re still in the first month of the new year. Or as I like to call it – the honeymoon period for New Years resolutions. We’re still excited about these new goals. Joyful about getting on track with healthy eating habits or a new exercise routine. Hopeful about making more time for ourselves. Determined to stick to that new budget or skip those extra Starbucks drinks.
I’ll admit, I’m a honeymooner here too. I’ve set a goal of making healthier eating choices this year. The holidays have caught up with me, and I’m not loving those few extra pounds I’ve put on. So once again, I’ve set off on this dieting journey, and I hope to actually stick to this New Years resolution. So how do I plan to stay on track this year? As someone who’s been down this road a few times before, I’ll share the 4 key things that I’ve found to be essential for sticking to a new diet.
Motivation. As someone who was not blessed with a fabulous metabolism, I’ve done my fair share of dieting throughout the years. In college, I loved hitting the gym each morning. I took up running, and trained for and completed a 5K. One summer, I started biking and would bike 10-20 miles a day. I even became a vegetarian for a long stint during college, and was obsessed with tofu and Greek yogurt and black bean burgers. I was definitely in my peak physical shape back then, and my motivation to eat healthy and BE healthy were at an all-time high. Now that I’m a busy working mom, the time I have to devote to exercise and healthy eating are at an all-time low. When you don’t have the time to hit the gym every morning or spend hours trying out that new keto recipe from Pinterest, it’s sometimes really hard to get motivated! But if there’s one thing I’ve found, it’s that motivation is essential to sticking to a new diet. If you’re not in it whole-heartedly, you won’t stick to it in the long run! So I had to dig a little deeper here, but for me, making healthier choices for myself means making healthier food choices for my family too. And like many other moms, I would do just about anything to make things better or easier for my daughter. So for me, I made this resolution about my daughter. If I make healthier eating choices, our whole family will be eating (and feeling) better! What motivates you in your New Years goal? Is it finally fitting into an old pair of jeans? Getting healthier for yourself or your loved ones? Maybe just loving what you see when you look in the mirror? Whatever it is, find your motivation and keep your eye on the prize!
Tracking. Another thing I’ve personally found to be essential to all my dieting endeavors is food tracking. Some people like to keep a journal, some people prefer to join a program. I personally love the app MyFitnessPal. The basic version of the app is free, and after creating a profile and setting a goal for yourself, it calculates how many calories you should consume each day based on your current weight and personal goal. You can then search through thousands of pre-loaded foods, or even scan the barcode on your favorite snack to add it to your food “diary.” You can also create custom recipes for things you make at home, making it super easy to track your eating. I also love that you can track your weight on here, and it creates a little graph to show your progress. I won’t lie, I don’t stick to this 100% for tracking every calorie I put in my mouth, but I do try to track my food as much as possible. When I go out to eat or make a more complicated recipe that is too cumbersome to input into the app, I won’t bother trying to track it. I know that keeping it simple is key for me – if I make it too difficult, I won’t stick with it in the long run.
Partnership. When I consider the times I’ve been the most successful in my dieting endeavors, it always comes down to this – if my mom was also dieting with me. A few months after my daughter was born and I was ready to lose the baby weight, my mom and I both decided to try the “keto” diet. We shared recipes, texted pictures of our healthy meals, and celebrated each other’s victories on the scale each week. We both were super successful with shedding those extra pounds, because we helped keep each other accountable, and we cheered each other on along the way. For me, I need someone else in the passenger seat with me on this dieting journey. I need someone to talk to, share ideas with, and celebrate with! My mom has always been that person for me, so when she told me around New Years that she was going to start dieting again, I was so happy to have her as my partner on this journey again! Who is your dieting partner? Maybe it’s your spouse, parent, sibling, or friend. Maybe even a coworker. Whoever it is, resolve to help each other along this journey, because it’s so much easier to do it with someone else!
Forgiveness. This last thing is oh so important. I would argue that it’s the most essential thing to sticking to a new diet! We have to remember that we’re only human, and not every day is going to be perfect! You might not always be able to deny the temptation of the box of donuts at work. You might cave and grab a bag of chips at the checkout line. You might need a glass of wine after a long day. And all those things are OK! For me, I have a horrible sweet tooth, so passing on the sugary treats is always torture for me! Some days, my willpower is super strong and it’s easy to turn things down. Other days I want to devour an entire pack of Oreos, and I might just give in to that temptation. Is it IDEAL for my diet to eat a pack of Oreos? No way. But one bad day can’t completely derail me. As a teacher, I preach this almost daily with my students. One bad choice doesn’t make it a bad DAY. One bad day doesn’t make it a bad WEEK. We all make mistakes, so if you slip up and eat something you shouldn’t have, forgive yourself and move on. Sometimes those little “mistakes” even act to renew our motivation and drive us to do better the next time. So don’t fall off the wagon because of one little slip-up. Or two or three little slip-ups. No matter how many “mistakes” you make, you can still get right back on track and move past it.