Get the "Write" StuffJournals, food diaries, grocery lists, to-do lists ... you write down a lot of things to stay on-track, so why not add your new year's resolutions? Brainstorm all of your goals onto one piece of paper and then rewrite each individual goal as a contract with yourself. For example, one of my resolutions this year is to limit myself to one diet soda daily; I simply signed and dated a note card stating this and put it on my fridge with a magnet so I am reminded each time I open the door. Put your contracts somewhere that will remind you of the promises you have made -- this boost will be helpful when your motivation wanes.
Save the DateIf you just say you're going to meet your goal some time this year, that's probably too open-ended. You may fall into the "I'll-start-my-diet-next-Monday" trap if you leave your timeline wide open. Instead, mark your calendar for a certain date for each goal you want to meet. By June I would like to walk two miles a day. I have a set date and I know I need to work up to those two miles starting out with 10 additional minutes of walking per day this week, 15 minutes more next week, and so forth. Having that timeline reminds me that I can pace myself according to my goal rather than doing too much, too soon.
Make (and Meet) Mini GoalsA goal that's too big can be so overwhelming that you never even get started toward meeting it. Make small changes every week and they will add up in time. It's easier to move individual stones than a whole mountain. Here are some examples of weekly changes you could incorporate into mini-goals:
- Week One: Drink 8 glasses of water per day.
- Week Two: Take the steps at work instead of the elevator.
- Week Three: Switch to diet sodas instead of sweetened beverages.
- Week Four: Eliminate fried foods from my daily diet.
- Week Five: Eat one vegetarian meal per week.
The small changes you can adapt to as your new way of life will be what leads you to long-term success.
Call in the CalvaryWeight loss is difficult in the best of circumstances, so don't try to go it alone. Tell your friends and family what you want to accomplish and how they can help you. Telling someone else your goals will make you feel that much more dedicated to reaching them. And maybe you'll even find a weight-loss buddy among your peers; buddying up is a great way to stay motivated.
Track and RewardKeep your momentum going strong by charting your progress and setting up your own rewards system. For every five pounds you lose, for instance, you could treat yourself to something special: Five pounds could mean a new paperback book and 10 pounds, a new department store lipstick. Reaching a milestone like 25 or 50 pounds could mean something really special like a weekend getaway. Set the rewards you want now so you can look forward to them as you work toward your goals.
Get RealNothing sets you up for failure more than unmeetable expectations. If you set an unrealistic goal (i.e., losing 20 pounds in one month), you will become discouraged when that doesn't happen. The best weight loss is slow and steady -- around one to two pounds a week. If a diet leads you to lose much more than that, it may not be healthy and the weight probably won't stay off. Most of us took years to gain the weight we are trying to lose, so there is no reason we should expect it to come off in a short time.