If you’re like most of us, you optimistically welcome the New Year with an ambitious set of goals. But within a few short weeks, those resolutions all too often fall by the wayside and it’s back to business as usual. Worse, you may feel disappointed or even guilty. When those New Year’s resolutions include slimming down and getting fit, your health and quality of life are also at risk. Yes, life intervenes and you may find yourself coming up short on more than one occasion, but that’s no reason to call it quits. Here are my eight tips for creating results as well as resolutions in 2013.
1. Set yourself up for success. When you try to change too many things at once or are overly ambitious, you may be sabotaging yourself. For example, instead of resolving to lose 50 pounds, set a far more realizable goal of 10 pounds. This simple change sets you up for success instead of likely failure. Once you banish those extra pounds, you can pat yourself on the back and feel good about yourself. Then reset your goal for another 10 or 15 pounds. Likewise, it’s unrealistic to think that you can go from being a bona fide couch potato to a ripped athlete in a matter of months. Start out, perhaps, with a resolution to walk a couple of miles five days a week. Once this has become your pattern and you’re feeling better about your physical self, add another activity or increase your distance or speed. With each incremental improvement, you’ll have an opportunity to take pride in your results. And that’s a powerful motivator to keep going.
2. Come up with a battle plan. Envisioning an objective is crucial, whether it’s to eat better or be more active—or to watch less television, or whatever—but you also need the tactics to achieve the desired effect. If your objective is to lose weight on the Atkins Diet, do your homework and make sure you have the proper foods in the house. Becoming a member of the Atkins Community will provide you with the tools and support you need to succeed. The point is that achieving your resolution takes a lot more than simply declaring it.
3. Resolve with a buddy. There is something about saying something out loud that makes us more apt to stick to our guns. I’m not suggesting that you yell it from the housetop or take out an ad in the local paper, but resolving with a friend, spouse or relative to join forces to achieve a similar resolution can be a powerful motivator. Some of you brave souls may even want to post your intentions on Facebook and report on your progress—complete with photos!
4. Eliminate guilt from your vocabulary. There’s nothing more corrosive to good intentions than blaming yourself when you fall short of your goals. But be realistic. No one can be 100 percent “good” 100 percent of the time. This means accepting less than perfection without surrendering to guilt feelings. If you blame yourself for your perceived weakness and lack of commitment, you simply set the stage for failure. This is especially important if you use food to try to cope with negative emotions. Instead, accept that like all human beings, you occasionally don’t do what you know you should do. Choose to see the glass as half full by learning from your experience, rather than choosing to see it as half empty and embarking on a destructive guilt trip.
5. Write it down. Whether you use a paper calendar or an electronic one, enter daily or weekly reminders to yourself to help achieve your goals. They may be as simple as scheduling time for a workout or reminding yourself to ignore those doughnuts in the break room. Or you may want to use some inspirational cues about being as beautiful on the outside as you already are on the inside—or whatever works for you. Then at the end of the day, record your progress toward your goals. If you fell back, don’t beat yourself up; instead, write down what got in the way and how your can avoid that trap in the future. If you stayed on track, praise yourself for your good work.
6. Don’t deprive yourself. After the orgy of eating that often accompanies the winter holidays it can almost be a relief to contemplate eating differently. But don’t let moderation feel like deprivation, which could soon turn to discontent. Head off such emotions at the pass by treating yourself well. After all, one key to doing Atkins properly is enjoying two satisfying snacks a day. And it’s not just snacks. Eating adequate protein foods and butter on your vegetables, olive oil on your salads and cream in your coffee, as well as such foods as avocadoes and olives, keeps you satiated. Any misguided efforts to do a low-fat version of Atkins will leave you hungry and unsatisfied.
7. Plan ahead. We all tend to think we can easily turn a new page, but old habits die hard. It’s relatively easy to stick with your new way of eating when you’re in your routine of say, breakfast and dinner at home and lunch in the company cafeteria. But what happens when you’re meeting friends for dinner at that new Thai restaurant or taking the kids to Disney World for spring recess? As long as you plan in advance, needn’t interfere with your self-improvement resolutions, but you do want to come up with a plan before you arrive at the restaurant or the airport.
8. Get back on track fast. If and when you engage in behavior that doesn’t further your resolution, see it as a single act, not a repudiation of your objective. So if you slip and eat the French fries that came with your burger at lunch, that doesn’t mean that you might as well have pizza for dinner. Don’t let a single misstep turn into a cascade of eating high-carb foods. Instead, have a satisfying low-carb meal to remind yourself of how many tasty foods you can eat on Atkins. Likewise, if cold weather keeps you from exercising as you have been doing for a while, don’t let that interfere with finding an indoor activity to keep you engaged until the weather improves. Take such challenges as opportunities to learn that you can keep your word to yourself. After all, the longer you delay before getting back to your resolutions, the more difficult it will be to achieve them.
I wish you the best of luck in making 2013 the year you get slim, trim and healthy. Please feel free to share with the Atkins Community your resolutions and your progress and challenges in keeping them.