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A Registered Dietitian’s Tips for Staying Committed to Your Health Goals

How to Set Realistic Health Goals

We are a month or so into 2021, and if you set New Year’s  Resolutions, it might be getting a little more difficult to stay motivated and stick to your health goals. Or, perhaps the stress of 2020 spilled into the new year and you didn’t find the time to set any 2021 resolutions. Either way, CF Nutrition is here to help you get on track to make 2021 YOUR year to become the healthiest and happiest version of yourself. In this article, we discuss ways to set realistic and sustainable fitness and health goals that you can actually keep. 

1. Don’t overestimate how much time you have to dedicate to fitness

I ‘m going to workout 7 days a week for an hour and a half in the New Year. Sound familiar?

There are several factors that go into how much time you can spend on fitness. If you work from home and don’t have children, you might have more time to dedicate to fitness than a parent who has to work in an office. Work and kids are just two of the many factors that may decrease someone’s available time in the day or week to dedicate to fitness. When creating a fitness New Years Resolution, it’s important to evaluate all of the responsibilities you have and be realistic with how much time you can spend being physically active. Overestimating how much time you can spend on fitness is one of the main reasons people don’t stick to their new health goals. 

If you have a busy schedule, HITT workouts may be the most effective and timely way to get in your workout. A short 30-minute HITT class can burn a lot of calories and give you more energy boost to go about the rest of the day. There are several online HITT classes to explore so it’s easy to find one that you enjoy.

Setting a goal for how many days per week to be active is a great way to make sure you reach your health goals. If you’re new to exercising, maybe start small and aim to be physically active 3 times per week. Once you’re comfortable with this workout schedule, you can then gradually work to increase your weekly fitness goal. If you start with unrealistic expectations, it’s easy to give up altogether and go back to your old ways, leaving you feeling discouraged. 

2. Don’t have the ALL or NOTHING approach

This year I will not eat any sweets. (Eats one cookie, throws in the towel)

Having an all or nothing approach to diet can be detrimental to your health goals. When we are too strict with ourselves, eating one cookie can lead to a whole day of poor eating and junk food binges. If you are craving a cookie, eat the cookie and go on with your day. Eating something that doesn’t align with your normal healthy diet is perfectly normal. Try not to overthink it. 

This all-or-nothing mentality can affect your fitness goals as well. If you miss a workout on Monday, don’t think your whole week is ruined. Instead, get right back on track the following day. Having an all-or-nothing approach is very common for people when they are starting new habits but trying to avoid this mentality will help you stick to your health goals and create a healthier YOU.

3. Focus on what you put into your body, rather than what you’re cutting out.

No sugar, no white bread, no alcohol, no pasta, no gluten. Sound familiar?

Ever think about how many restrictions you implement with your diet? There’s low carb, vegan, sugarfree, dessert-free, starch-free…. the list goes on and on. But what if we focused instead on what we ARE eating. Instead of telling yourself you can’t have any chocolate this year, set a goal to make sure you eat 5-7 servings of vegetables each day. Or, instead of restricting white bread, make sure you get the right amount of fiber each day. By putting so many restrictions on our food intake, we make food the enemy. I know it sounds crazy, but food is not the enemy. IT FUELS US. So maybe this year, you consider setting health goals like:

  1. Eat 5-7 servings of veggies each day
  2. Eat the rainbow
  3. Consume 2-3 servings of fruit in each day
  4. Eat healthy fats like omega-3’s
  5. Adequately hydrate each& every day
  6. Get in the recommended daily amount intake of fiber

By focusing on what you put into your body, your relationship with food will heal and you will look to food as a way to nourish and fuel your body, rather than depriving it.

5. Remember that weight loss is a gradual process

The recommendation for weight loss is 1.0-2.0 LBS/week not 20LBS in 2 weeks. 

Do you expect to become a millionaire overnight? Unless you are a very lucky lottery winner, you probably won’t become a millionaire overnight. I love to use this analogy as a Registered Dietitian when working with patients to reach their weightloss goals. Just like you can’t expect to strike it rich overnight, you can’t achieve sustainable and lasting weight loss instantaneously (and you definitely shouldn’t attempt to either). Weight loss is a gradual process and it takes time, hard work, and patience. If weight loss is something you are looking to achieve this year, keep in mind that this process takes time, so be patient. Try not to dive into fad diets that make you eliminate carbs or consume juices instead of meals. Research shows that chronic dieting leads to weight gain and an unhealthy relationship with food. If you follow a restrictive diet you will eventually give in and binge eat whatever you were restricting. This unhealthy cycle is known as the dreaded yo-yo diet and can not only lead to weight gain but also health complications. Trust me, I know it seems like giving up carbs and sweets is the straightforward answer to finally achieving your weight loss goal but I can assure you, it’s not. Sure, you might lose weight quickly at first, but after a few weeks, it’s very likely that you will gain it all back when your body adjusts to this new way of eating (or you ultimately give in to your very normal cravings). I cannot stress the importance of eating a well-balanced diet enough: all the food groups play an important role in keeping you healthy, strong, and energized. 

We hope these tips help you set realistic health goals for yourself this year and become the happiest and healthy version of yourself.

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