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It’s here again, the beginning of a new year. As much as we try to maintain that we’re not interested in New Year’s resolutions, there is still a lingering voice in the back of our minds reminding us that with a new year comes new opportunities to do things right; to be better. Most of us have the same recurring goals and are all set for a clean slate only to realize somewhere around February that we’re right back in our old habits and on our way to a repeat year of good intentions and failed goals. If getting healthy is on your list this year, I have some surefire ways to help you make and keep those nutrition goals for good.

Set Realistic Goals
It seems as if come January 1st, we’re so ready to make a change that we swing all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum only to realize that we’ve asked more of ourselves than we can actually accomplish. Instead of making your goal to lose 20 pounds by the end of January, try to set a goal of making healthy eating choices six out of seven days a week. You’ll avoid disappointment and the urge to give up altogether, plus you might be surprised with the results you see when your focus is on smaller tasks you can actually accomplish rather than large milestones.

The 80/20 Rule
There are always going to be special occasions that come up. There will always be birthday parties and weddings. There will always be times when eating perfectly isn’t possible or even desirable. Be kind to yourself and realistic. Deprivation is not the goal. Relax and enjoy special occasions in a knowledgeable way. This single day is a snapshot in time. Follow the 80/20 rule. As someone whose whole world revolves around food and health, I believe that if I live healthy eighty percent of the time then my body will be strong enough to handle the other twenty percent. I am not interested in spending the amount of time and energy that it would take to be a saint with my diet. Also, I have found that when we become rigid with our diet we tend to become rigid with life. This can eliminate much of the spontaneity and joy that life has to offer.

Eat More
Instead of focusing on what you can’t eat, direct your focus to what you can eat. Make 2015 the year when you become adventurous in the kitchen. Make it your goal to expand your palette and try as many new flavors as possible and experiment with new combinations. Have you passed that one thing in the produce aisle and never known what it actually is? Buy it, research ways to prepare it and then eat it. You may not like it, but you just might find a new favorite. Eat good nutritious food in abundance.

Plan for Success
Do you know what you are having for dinner tonight? Fewer than 30 percent of Americans know by 4 p.m. Yet planning ahead doesn’t take that long, and it can set you up for success. Instead of wondering what you’re going to feed yourself and your family when everyone is hungry, you already know and you already have everything you need. This will help eliminate the need to make a run to the drive through in a moment of hunger and desperation. Here’s one example of
how it can work. Sunday morning, sit down with paper, pen and your favorite cookbook or cooking magazine. Think about what’s in your pantry, what your family likes to eat, look at how many nights you will be able to cook dinner and how many require a different solution. Then plan out the week’s worth of menus. At the same time, write out your grocery list. Now the inevitable what’s for dinner question is solved!

Reward Yourself
Many times we’ve had a successful week and our first thought is to grant ourselves a reward. In many cases, that reward is in the form of a food item that we’ve been avoiding. It seems counter-intuitive to reward yourself with the very thing you’ve been trying to eliminate from your diet, so instead try a different reward system. If you’re successful in reaching all of your goals for an entire month, treat yourself to an outing that doesn’t involve food. Is there a new pair of shoes that you’ve had your eye on? Work on making reward associations that don’t involve food. Make
them about things you enjoy or experiences with people you love. This reward won’t undo all of your hard work and I guarantee it will be long lasting and fuel your motivation to power through the tougher moments to continued success. If you begin to implement new habits and new systems into your life, you’re giving yourself the best shot at having a successful year. Pretty soon, it won’t be about making a New Year’s resolution to be healthy, but rather about living
the full and abundant life you’ve created for yourself.

"Instead of making your goal to lose 20 pounds by the end of January, try to set a goal of making healthy eating choices six out of seven days a week."