I share the worst weight loss new year’s resolutions that I hear daily as a dietitian and how to fix them so that you can actually meet your goals!
Okay, 2017, it was a good one. I got pregnant, finally moved into my house, got my beautiful pup and obviously partied hard over the holidays. Yes, even dietitians can overdo it on the baby quiche and chocolate. But if you’re counting on keeping your tried and true new year’s resolutions in order to get you back on track, you may want to re-think your approach. As a dietitian, I hear them all. And as a human being, I’ve probably made them all. And if you’re about the enter the annual cycle of binge-resolve-restrict-fail—repent-repeat, I may have a better approach to your typical weight loss new year’s resolutions.
So how can we make weight loss New Year’s Resolutions that actually stick?
I’m going to take you back to your grade 11 guidance counsellor’s office and talk about SMART goals. In order to be useful, goals need to be:
Fun acronym, I know! But even more fun because research is looking more and more into the benefits of good goal setting for health care improvement- in other words, you’re more likely to attain your goal if it’s SMART. So stop recycling the same resolution each year and pick a SMART goal that’s there to stay!
First let’s look at some of the most likely health new years resolutions you’ve probably made (or are planning to make) and why these don’t work!
Common Weight Loss New Year’s Resolutions (and How to Make them Better)
Resolution 1: Get a Six Pack!
Oh gosh. First of all, abs don’t come overnight, nor do they just pop up after a few sets of crunches. Getting a six pack isn’t just about muscle- it’s about getting rid of the fat that sits on top of the muscle through severe dieting and exercise. You would have to get your body fat percentage down to 10-15%, which is neither easy, or necessarily super healthy. Abs are also super genetic, so you could very well work and eat like a fitness model and still not get there.
In other words, getting a six pack might just not be attainable, especially without checks and balances in place to help you get there. It’s also not very action oriented to just wish a set of abs on yourself.If fitness is your goal (and you really want to get lean), a SMART approach would be to aim to swap out your daily Frappuccino for an iced Americano without sugar, increase the weights you lift by 10% within two weeks, and add an extra day each week in the gym for the next 8 weeks.
Resolution 2: Eat Clean!
STOP IT. WHAT DOES CLEAN EVEN MEAN?! I hate the word “clean”- it insinuates that other foods are “dirty” and immoral, when in reality, it’s all just food! Having said that, if eating better is your goal, make it a bit more SMART by narrowing in on a few measurable markers. Perhaps your goal will be to swap your night-time chip habit for an ounce of pistachios, and making assembly-line style yogurt parfaits for breakfast instead of stopping for Tim-Bits immediately, and each month bringing home a new unfamiliar vegetable from the store. THAT is something you can sink your teeth into.
Resolution 3: Lose Weight!
Oh, generic weight loss new year’s resolutions. It seems like it doesn’t matter what you weigh, come January, everyone and their grandma wants to shed pounds. First off, I just want to say that weight isn’t your best predictor of health if that’s ultimately what you’re after. And second, has a broad goal like that worked for you in the past? Probably not. If weight loss truly is your goal for whatever reason it may be, you could make it SMART by wanting to lose 2 LBS each week for the next 8 weeks as measured at the same time each Friday morning on a calibrated scale.
I hope you’re now a bit better equipped to enter the new year with SMART goals that are Specific, Measureable, Action oriented, Realistic, and Time-Bound rather than abstract, flimsy and easily forgotten.
Now, I want to know:
What’s your SMART goal for the new year?
Do you have a weight loss new year’s resolution?
What goals have worked (or haven’t worked) for you in the past?
Leave me a comment below with your ideas for 2017!
Updated on January 9th, 2018
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), regulated by the Ontario College of Dietitians. She is a mom, YouTuber, Blogger, award winning cookbook author, media coach specializing in food and nutrition influencers, and a frequent contributor to national publications like Healthline and on national broadcast TV shows.