How can I keep my resolution to lose weight?

Why do January's good intentions often end up discarded by March? Many goals start out being too difficult and too general. That's a setup for failure. Before deciding on your goal, keep a food or exercise diary for a week to get a clear view of your current lifestyle. Every day, write down what you eat and your physical activity.

Then use that snapshot of your life to choose an area to focus on. You may see that you're spending hours on the living room couch at night or having fast-food lunches most days of the week. By looking at what you're currently doing you can set a goal and know where you started.

Choose a precise, positive goal for a short period of time. Make it challenging enough to motivate you without being beyond your capabilities.

If you haven't exercised in years, don't plan on running 20 miles a week -- it'll never happen. Instead, think of your goal as, "I'll take a walk with the dog three times this week."

Pick a goal-directed activity that's fun and enticing enough that you'll keep doing it. Social support helps you stay motivated, so try to exercise with a friend, spouse or child.
  • Define your goals and make sure they are realistic. If they’re not, then modify them or divide them into step goals that allow you to achieve milestones of success and then move on to the next one. Want to lose 50 pounds? Make your first goal a 15 pound weight loss and see if you can remain at that weight for a few weeks. Once you’re comfortable with the habits that helped you achieve your first weight loss milestone, modify your eating or exercise habits to hit the next goal of a total weight loss of 25 pounds.
  • Set a schedule. Put exercise time on your calendar and take time to make food shopping lists and menus. You can then schedule your shopping trips and also the days you will prepare foods. This can help reduce how many days you shop, prepare and cook food which can translate into an easier time staying on track to your goals.
  • Expect setbacks and have a strategy ready to intercept. Don’t fall apart or decide to abandon your resolution because of a setback. Decide ahead of time on a few responses to help you get back on track. In the case of a sudden food binge when you are well into several weeks of a diet, simply step back and re-gain control by planning several days of menus and exercise experiences. That one binge will not throw you off course. If the binge turns into several days of uncontrolled eating, then you may not be able to regain control.
  • Consider a buddy or support team to help you stay the course. A support group or buddy can help to keep you on track and accountable.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Did you resolve to blast away all those holiday calories? Start with what you can handle. I’m a big fan of making small and reasonable goals for yourself. Why not start with planning to lose just 10 measly pounds? It may seem like nothing, but you’ll be surprised how 10 pounds can drastically improve and lengthen your life.

Exercising is a great way to jump-start your weight loss and alleviate stress. Exercise releases endorphins, which improves mood, reduces stress, and releases energy. Try some new yoga poses to get yourself into an exercise-friendly lifestyle. From there, you can graduate to harder exercise classes, swimming classes, water aerobics, or my favorite, Pilates! Controlling your portions and cutting the junk food are also good initial ground rules for every body type.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.