Happy 2016! Now that you've made those New Year's Resolutions, let's talk about how to keep them.
It comes down to finding what keeps you motivated, especially when you hit a speed bump that threatens to derail your progress. This is different for everyone, but here are some things that work for me. I'm always cautious about picking an event to keep me motivated. I've done this many times in the past and unless you have other things/events to keep you motivated after the big event is over, you may slip up and end up exactly where you were before. For example, I am going to Hawaii this spring. I've never been to Hawaii and want to be in awesome shape since there definitely will be pictures and I want to look amazing in them. I'm not in awful shape now, but knowing that I have a few months to get where I want to be is helpful.
When picking events that are far in the future, it's really easy to say that one cookie (or an entire box/batch) won't make that much of a difference in the long run. While this is true if you just stick to one, it takes a lot of will power to do that. Instead, I pick smaller things every month that I want to look and feel great for. For instance, my birthday is this week (YAY! I LOVE birthday week!) and I want to look great in the pictures that will be taken. I love pictures, so of course there will be pictures. This has been what's motivated me since Christmas.
Small milestones and goals will add up to big results.
Regardless of what your goal is, you need to approach it as a lifestyle change, not a temporary fix. Quick fixes never work long term. Change your mindset and you'll likely start to see results.
Find something that you enjoy. If you hate it, you won't stick with it. There's a hard core boot camp or something similar before my yoga class and I see these people doing that whenever I get to class early. That does not look fun to me. Therefore, I probably wouldn't stick with it. If something appeals to you, try it. If you don't like it, try something else. Figure out what you like and what you will stick with. I love to run, but hate the bone-chilling cold. That being said, I don't run outside as much during the winter as I do during the other times of the year. My solution was finding an indoor workout that I like. Treadmills bore me. Hello, yoga class!!
I've heard that nutrition counts for most of weight loss success. My experience tends to agree with that. After a long day at work or at the farm, spending hours in the kitchen cooking dinner isn't high on my priority list. Resorting to a frozen pizza on a daily basis doesn't help my goals, so I've found some quick and easy (and healthy) recipes. The crock pot is awesome for helping get a healthy meal on the table in a timely manner. I prepare everything the night before, put it in the crock pot and stick it in the fridge. Then in the morning, start the crock pot. By the time I'm home from work, my place smells amazing and dinner is almost ready. If you are looking for healthy crock pot recipes, I'd recommend my chicken taco bowls and balsamic beef roast.
Another way to get healthy food on the table without a lot of effort is to make larger batches of foods that freeze or reheat well. You can either freeze them for another time or make enough for leftovers all week long. Leftovers have a bad reputation, but they save a lot of time.
Regardless of what your goal is, you need to keep yourself accountable. Whether your goal is to organize your Christmas decorations so you can actually find things, lose weight or start another good habit, begin by creating a vision. Start with the bigger picture and work your way through the tactics of how exactly you are going to make that happen.
Let's use my Hawaii example. My vision is to look and feel amazing when I'm in Hawaii this spring. To accomplish this, I have food goals, exercise goals and general wellness goals. I also have a financial goal of how to save for this so it doesn't derail any of my other big financial goals that I'm working on. My food goals involve eating healthier most of the time, but allowing myself to indulge in my favorite foods on special occasions. To do this, I cook most of the time and take my lunch to work. This saves money and eliminates extra calories that generally come with eating out. When I'm thinking about eating cookies or other things when I'm bored and not actually hungry, I think about how awesome it will feel if I stick with my goals and look amazing in my bikini on the beach in Hawaii. This distracts me from wanting to eat those cookies and helps me remember that my goal is important and worth sticking with.
5. Take it one day at a time
Thinking about how you are going to stay committed to your goals and motivated for months can be overwhelming, especially if it's a big goal or you have a lot of goals. This is when you think that taking a meal/day/week off won't really hurt actually comes back to hurt you. One of my late resolutions from last year was to be more spontaneous, so I've been working on not planning so much and just seeing where the day/week takes me.
It's important to figure out what derails you and what you can't control yourself around and to purposely avoid those things. For me, it's snacking. Snacking is bad. Lots of extra calories that I forget about and usually don't need. Therefore, I make sure I eat balanced meals (most of the time) so I'm not tempted to snack. If I need a snack, I eat an apple. I also take my Nalgene bottle with me everywhere to stay hydrated.
6. Be realistic
Dream big. You never know what you can accomplish if you limit yourself. However, saying you will lose 40 pounds this month is not very realistic for most people. Ask yourself what you can reasonably do and what you will do this week to help make that happen. Look at how you spend your time on a weekly basis and carve out time for your goals and things that are important to you. We all have those chunks of wasted time that could be spent doing something much more productive. Maybe it's surfing your Facebook feed on your phone or watching TV for hours on end.
7. Be kind
Be kind to yourself and spend time on things that make you feel great. Along those lines, spend time with people who make you your best self.
We all slip up at some point. It's going to happen. Don't beat yourself up when it does. Take a deep breath, then take a moment to get back on track by planning what you will do today to accomplish your goals.
Have a great year! Keep in mind that slipping up isn't the end of the world. Get back on track and don't let one mistake ruin all of your hard work. Don't forget to enjoy the process! If you aren't enjoying it, what's the point?