Looking for a weight loss resolution to commit to in 2014 that won’t leave you feeling like a failure by 2015? Many of us set big, vague goals on January first—“I will lose weight” or “I will get healthy” or “I won’t eat sugar,” for example—but goals like that, without measure or plan, are sure to set us up for failure.
Maybe the problem isn’t in the weight loss resolutions you’re making, but in trying to master a huge goal all at once!
If your resolution for next year is to lose weight, Here are some steps you can take, one month at a time, that will add up to serious weight loss by the end of the year.
This month, focus on your water intake. Don’t worry about exercising, cutting out junk food, or any of the other things you normally worry about every January.
To get an idea of how much water you should drink, try to get an ounce of water for every pound that you weigh.
If you want to go to the gym, go—but because you want to, not because you’re making yourself now that it’s resolution season. Just focus on your water.
It should be less of a chore to get in your water every day, now that you’ve been focusing on it for a few months. So this month, while still getting in your water, work on putting good things into your body.
We didn’t say taking the bad things out. That’s for another month. This month, just concentrate on working more fruits and vegetables into your day. If you’re new to eating vegetables or fruits, don’t feel bad—plenty of us had to go through a bit of a learning curve. I never ate asparagus until after I had my first kid. Now I love the stuff.
Point is, when it comes to new things, try it. You’ll like it. Widening the array of fruits and veggies you enjoy will make it easier to get in your 5-a-day. And the more you fill up on fruits and veggies, the less you’ll want to eat junk anyway.
Now that you’ve been drinking lots of water every day and eating five fruits and veggies every day, you’ve probably noticed a huge difference in the way your look and feel. Your skin is clearer, your hair more manageable, your insides feeling a little more regular. You know. All that fiber.
This month, start working in some exercise. It doesn’t have to be a lot—just a daily 30 minute walk is a good way to start. If you already started exercising, now is the time to take it up a notch. Just one notch. Don’t go cray.
If you’ve been walking, try jogging. If you’ve been jogging, sign up for a road race. If you’ve been running, try some light weights. Don’t be scared; there are lots of resources out there on exercise. You’re sure to find something you love.
By now you’ve probably noticed some changes in the way you look, and are feeling really good. You’ve got some great habits in place now, and it’s a good thing, because the end of the year can be particularly tricky to navigate when you’re trying to maintain healthy habits.
Through the end of the year, focus on eliminating processed, packaged foods from your diet. You may not even be eating that many of these foods already—a great thing about healthy habits is that they kind of build on each other. Once you’ve been keeping up your water intake, healthy food intake, and exercise, you probably wont’ want to eat those kinds of foods anyway.
And when the holidays come around and you’re tempted to splurge on some seasonal treats, don’t feel guilty. Just make your own versions out of healthy ingredients so you can indulge in your favorites. For example, if pumpkin is your must-have flavor of fall, try some in your oatmeal, or mix some with your yogurt with some cinnamon. Weight loss is about modification, not deprivation.
Congratulations! You made it a whole year with your health goals intact. And if you stumbled here or there, that’s ok; the important part is, at the end of every day is a nice restorative sleep and another fresh start in the morning.
Celebrate the new you tonight! And tomorrow, walk into the new year with confidence, because you did what not too many of us have done—you kept your health goals for the entire year.