By: Deborah Shteierman, Student

As the New Year rolls in, many of us are taking on new resolutions, or even renewing our commitment to old ones. For some, those resolutions include a commitment to changing unhealthy eating habits. Set yourself up for success by establishing specific goals that target the area that you want to improve. Extensive research has proven that setting goals increases your chances of changing a behavior. Here are three tips for establishing effective goals.

Make it Something Positive

Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, focus on what you can have. If your overall goal is to lose three pounds by next month, set a specific goal that can help you achieve this. However, instead of saying I won’t have ice cream anymore for dessert, commit yourself to substituting a fruit instead of the ice cream twice a week. That way you will not feel like you are restricting yourself and the substitution should help you achieve your overall goal of weight loss.

Small Sustainable Change is Key

As eager as you are to shed those holiday pounds, it’s counterproductive to wage war on every aspect of your diet, as it will seem overwhelming and there will be a good change you will give up. Instead of resolving to never eat cake or cookies, and not to drink soda EVER again, etc. make small changes in stages. Target just one behavior at a time so that you can fully commit to that change and feel confident that it is achievable.

Do Away with the “All or Nothing” Rule

So many times people slip up and don’t achieve their goal for that day or week or even month, and they throw in the towel. They think, “Well, I’ve already messed up, I might as well….” (You fill in the blank). In truth, even if you don’t meet your goal, view the slip-up as a learning experience, since it’s a way to identify if there is a barrier to making the change, rather than viewing it as a failure. Reassess your goal and give yourself the encouragement you need to get back on track.

Happy and Healthy New Year!