It's that time of year again! Time to stop indulging for the holidays and focus on our health goals. In four short months, the sun will be warm and we will be unpacking the shorts, tank tops and bathing suits.
Here are five tips to keep in mind when setting goals or making your New Year's resolutions:
1. Be realistic If you have always disliked running, don't plan to train for a marathon. If you have an unheated pool, don't plan to swim during the winter months. If you love chocolate, don't say you won't eat any chocolate all year.
Instead, plan activities that you enjoy and will be comfortable doing. Follow a healthful meal plan that includes plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and an occasional treat that will keep your cravings under control!
2. Make it attainable Success is a great motivator; but to be successful at reaching your goals, the goals must be attainable. Set a goal that you have to work toward, but make it something you really can do. Set yourself up for success.
3. Be specific If you want to increase your exercise, don't say you'll "exercise more." Decide what type of exercise, how many times each week, and how many minutes you will do it. For example, "I will go to my one hour yoga class three times each week." This also makes your goal measurable so you can tell when you have reached it.
4. Enlist support The people we spend the most time with can be a great help or can create more challenges. If your friends, family and co-workers know how to help, they are usually happy to do so.
Tell them what helps you. For example, I have a hard time resisting sweets. Saying "no thank you" is hard enough for me once, and even harder when someone keeps asking. So I've ask my friends and family not to ask me again if I decline a food or beverage.
5. Anticipate "slips" No one is perfect and habits are hard to change. Try to think of what you will do to stay on track when obstacles arise. When you make a mistake, remind yourself of your goal and get right back on track instead of being too hard on yourself and getting discouraged.
Wishing you a very happy and healthy year filled with goals accomplished and dreams come true.
Collins is a registered dietitian at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation in Modesto.