New Year's Resolutions

By: Lilli Rozanski, MS, RDN, LDN, Sports and Fitness Dietitian, Thibodaux Regional Health System

It is a new year, so you know what that means… New Year’s resolutions! Since most of us consider January a fresh start, I am here to help you make resolutions that stick instead of ones that could fail by February. When it comes to creating healthy habits, the most effective way to do this is to make it work for your unique wants and needs, likes and dislikes, and life.

Before diving in, it is important to practice some self-discovery to figure out what it is that you truly want. Tuning into what you need in your life is more important than following something just because you believe it is healthy. Think about what changes would make you the happiest and try picking a theme for the year. That way, even if a particular habit doesn’t stick, your bigger intention will. Take the theme of reducing stress, for example. You might try meditating and hate it. Since your goal wasn’t “meditate 10 minutes a day,” you don’t have to abandon the resolution completely. Maybe you try yoga next.

For a habit to truly stick, it needs to have immediate rewards. However, before you treat yourself with food after a great workout, research shows that the most effective rewards actually come from within and the ones you feel. Try noticing the energy you have after a great sweat session. Or the pride you feel from being able to bring your lunch to work for 3 days instead of eating out. Naming the reward you feel helps your brain build positive associations with the activity. If you cannot find an intrinsic reward, it might not be the right resolution to choose. Choose the form of the habit that makes you happy in the moment. If it has an immediate satisfaction, you are more likely to stick to it.

Our environment is one of the best ways to help stick with new habits. The less tempted you are, the more likely you are going to continue with the resolution. If your goal is to watch less television, unplug your television. If you want to eat to eat more vegetables, stock your fridge and pantry with more vegetables. It also helps to see daily reminder of your goals, so set it as your background on your phone or place it on a few sticky notes around the house.

A big thing to keep in mind is to plan to fail. Despite your best efforts, chances are you will fail at some point along your journey of building a new habit. Develop a recovery plan that will help you get through what do to next after your fail. Write down the barriers you think you will run into and how you can overcome them. So even if you stumble, be kind to yourself.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian, call Thibodaux Regional Wellness Education Center at 985.493.4765.