How to Actually Keep Your 2018 New Year's Resolutions

Setting New Year’s resolutions is so 2017. It’s time to start thinking of New Year’s in a different way. Yes, it’s a fresh start full of possibility and excitement and there is something really great about setting goals. But I often see clients, friends, and even strangers on the internet lose their commitment to impossibly strict resolutions after a week or two. In fact, on Urban Dictionary (I know, not the most reputable of resources) a New Year’s Resolution is defined as “a goal that you propose, and then forget the next day.” Raise your hand if you can relate!

So drop the idea of making a resolution to achieve any quick fixes. Instead of a life and diet overhaul, try rolling with some long term, sustainable, and realistic shifts. Here are 5 of my favorite suggestions… ones that I’ve seen actually work, both personally and professionally, as a registered dietitian.

1. Pick a ritual: Pick something that sounds the most soothing and realistic to you: this can be having a glass of water first thing in the morning, or ending the day with a tea nightcap. These little moments of repetition to begin or end your day are great for your brain and for your commitment. Think of your rituals rituals like happy little regimens to take great care of yourself. Other ideas: get really consistent with your bedtime, make meals a screen-free zone, take 1 min of deep breaths.

2. Choose a monthly theme: We overshoot when we try to do something for the whole year, so try choosing a theme for the month. It might be hydration, more home cooking, a booze-free 30 days, or even gratitude for your meals. Micro challenges are much more manageable than huge ones.

3. Add, add, add: The biggest reason I see resolutions fail is because people focus purely on what they’re nixing. By focusing on what you’re going to add more of (such as, veggies, fruit, wild fish, good fats, tea, water, or fermented foods) instead of what you’re cutting, you can be proactive instead of restrictive. As a result, some of those less great behaviors or foods will drop off by default.

4. Choose an accountabili-buddy (or a dietitian): Having someone to check in and touch base with is a game changer – it’s what we do locally and long distance at Foodtrainers and while we provide a lot of info and planning, accountability is the real secret ingredient. Not to worry if you don’t see a dietitian! Pick an accountabili-buddy. Choose a pal to check in with once a week. Even if you don’t have the same goal, commit to a text exchange and update. Being clear and talking about your goals out loud can help with commitment.

5. Write it down: If accountability is the secret ingredient, then journaling is the secret weapon. Start specifically with food journaling. Chances are you will see your habits crystal clear when you record for a week or two. Stress eating? Lack of veggies ( look for at least 2x a day!)? Excessive snacking? Skipping your ALOHA-filled breakfast? Skimping on water? Bloating when you eat dairy or gluten? Write it all down, including notes on how you feel. From there, you can see your eating habits clearly to pick a ritual (see #1) to focus on in the new year.