The New Year is perfect for giving yourself a new start on all your goals. For 2021, many people are making commitments to switch to plant-based diets for their health and to enhance their immunity. As Rhyan Geiger, owner of Phoenix Vegan Dietitian, says, “A New Year’s resolution can be enthralling, but may be hard to stick to after the first week or so.”
Regardless of your new years’ ambition, we want to help you master all your healthy eating goals, and then-some. So here are 7 tips to reach those goals, from top nutritionists.
1. Make your resolution very realistic
Don’t set yourself up for failure by taking on too much from the start. With everyone living busy lives and with you spending so much time and effort on your health, you don’t want to make it harder on yourself from the beginning.
“Think of your complete goal (for example, lose 20 pounds) and break that up into small steps that move you closer to your goal. Like drinking less soda or exercising more,” says Geiger, who presses the importance of narrowing your goal down to a super realistic one that is somewhat a challenge, but is still a possibility.
2. Find your keys to success
“This seems easy but many people overlook it from my experience with my clients,” says Sheri Vettel, RD, at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York.
“For example, if you want to start eating more veggies, think about the tools and skills you’ll need to guarantee your success. This may be a cooking class, listening to healthy eating podcasts, or buying new kitchen appliances to make the food preparation easier.”
3. Hold yourself accountable
“To hold yourself accountable, find a way to measure your progress. Use a friend, a journal or even join a group on Facebook,” says Geiger. “Do whatever you can to find and keep your motivation.”
If you’re doing Keto, try putting a “K” with a circle on your calendar for every 24 hours you successfully stuck to your keto eating plan. You’d be surprised at how good it can feel seeing all those “K”s on your wall. This might cause you to keep your momentum going into February and beyond.
4. Don’t hang on excuses as a way to abandon your goals
Mess up and ordered a late-night pizza when you vowed to cut down on junk food? Missed a day in your 30-day exercise challenge? Forget to meditate? Forget about it.
“Remember that you are bound to have bad days. It’s all about making stair-step-like positive changes as you go,” offers Geiger. “If you are losing track of your goal or losing motivation, adjust your thinking and start again wherever you left off. Don’t wait another minute.”
5. Make a goal that involves variety
For your New Year’s plans to have maximum chances of success, include some variety in your strategy. For Vettel, this matters most in the area of meal planning: “Set a goal involving variety to make meals interesting! Create a huge list of vegetables and fruit,” Vettel recommends. “Then keep a total next to each one when you buy it and use this to guide your grocery shopping each week.”
We love that idea, and this concept of variety works for more than just eating. If you want to exercise more, changing things up between weight lifting, cycling and jogging is more appealing and doable then doing the same exact routine over and over.
6. Be nice to yourself
These uncertain and stressful times can make beating yourself up easy, but that is a road to failure.
“When we set a goal, we are saying to ourselves that we must do something or not do something. This creates opportunity for self-judgment when we falter.’ The current covid crisis has taught us that it is vitally import to be gentle with and take good care of ourselves,” says Vettel. “This extends further beyond physical fitness. If it’s emotionally hard to keep our goals about the foods we want to eat, this negates the health benefits we are trying to achieve in the first place.”
Another thing to remember, advises Vettel, is how your resolution will change your health overall: “Really consider what your new habit will do for your health holistically,” says Vettel. “If your goal is to cut out all unhealthy foods or to workout daily, this could stress you out on days when you can’t do so, consider changing your resolution to something that will support your emotional and physical health together.”
7. Keep a Journal
There is a ton of research on the benefits of journaling. It can raise your self-esteem and help with anxiety. It’s even very effective at helping you stay committed to your New Year’s resolutions. “I’ve found that journaling is helpful when I start moving toward a new goal, because it becomes a reflection of my success,” states Vettel. “Whether it’s meditation, finding more space for the exercise I want to do, or working on my hydration and thinking over what’s working and what isn’t.”