by Amelia Harray, LiveLighter dietitian

Arm in the sky grasping a gold medal

Do you make the same New Year’s resolution year after year? If you do, you are not alone.

But why? I hear you say. The answer is because the New Year’s resolutions people set are often completely unachievable. In fact, the health goals people set are often so difficult to reach they are destined to fail from the start.

I am sure we all have a ‘friend’ who plans to get fit, lose weight and use social media less in the New Year. Are these specific or measurable? No. Using weight loss as an example, a more specific goal would be to lose one and a half kilograms in the next four weeks.

A key to reaching goals is by setting small, smart ones. Literally, S.M.A.R.T goals. It’s important to remember the beginning of the year is not the only opportunity to create new goals, but if you are ready now, here are some tips…

S.M.A.R.T.

Tip

Example

Specific Make it clear, rather than vague Use the stairs at work, not the lift
Measurable You need to be able to measure your achievement Maximum of one sugary drink per week
Achievable Set goals that are possible to meet (you must have the knowledge, ability and skills) Replace morning snack with a piece of fruit
Relevant Is this important to you? How will it improve your physical and mental health? Turn my mobile phone off by 8pm
Timely Set a timeframe – whether it be weeks or months, put a date on it Lose three kilograms in the next two months

Check out the LiveLighter goal setting fact sheet to help you get started.

Here are some more tips I’ve learnt over the years working as a dietitian:

1. Only set one goal

Although it may be tempting to make 2016 your year to change, setting smaller realistic goals and revisiting them to help keep you on track.

2. Tell your friends and family

Chatting openly to people about your goals may be hard initially but having support and encouragement from even one or two people around you can help you stay on track.

3. Don’t use a previous year’s resolution

Start from scratch and you won’t already feel like you’re behind the eight ball. Think about your personal priorities and start with the most important.

4. Revisit your goal monthly

Do this by setting a reminder on the first day of every month. This isn’t a reminder of what you haven’t done, but rather a reflection on whether the goal is still SMART and important to you.

5. Treat yourself

When you reach your goal, treat yourself. But remember, maintaining lifestyle changes are often the hardest. So, keep rewarding yourself with healthy and relaxing treats – they don’t need to be costly.

6. Get the right advice

In your online search for tools to help you reach (and stick to) your New Year’s resolution, look for evidence-based nutrition advice (meaning it’s based on quality science and research). Our free Meal and Activity Planner and recipes are a great place to start, with all recipes tested and approved by a dietitian.

Try to avoid fad diets and tempting weight loss promises as these are exactly what they claim to be: too good to be true. So skip the juice detox, the coconut oil balls and ‘paleo bacon’ in 2016 and aim for healthy recipes low in saturated fat, salt and added sugar.

Are you making any healthy changes this year?