5 Strategies to Make Your Diet and Fitness Resolutions Stick

A longer version of this article originally appeared on Livestrong.com.

Ever find yourself making New Year’s resolutions that eventually fall by the wayside? Well, you’re certainly not alone. According to Alyse Levine, M.S., RD, founder of the Eating Reset Plan, there are three main reasons diet resolutions tend to fail: 1) They’re too restrictive and have too many rules, such as cutting out all carbs; 2) they’re not enjoyable, such as thinking you will get up early every day to do an intense workout that you hate; or 3) they involve deprivation, like giving up all sweets. But have hope; there are ways to make those resolutions stick! Here are five strategies that will help you succeed.

1. Make it personal. Setting a successful resolution isn’t just about what you want to accomplish. It’s also about why it’s important for you — something known as intrinsic motivation. “Intrinsic motivation is that thing that drives someone to achieve something great. It’s usually personal to them for their own reasons,” says Misti Gueron M.S., RD, medical nutrition therapist at the Khalili Center. “For example, losing weight to improve your self-esteem is a personal motivation as opposed to losing weight because your family wants you to.” Whether it’s boosting your self-confidence or having more energy to play with your kids, determine your intrinsic motivation and write it down somewhere so that it will personally inspire you to stay on track.

2. Create a plan for success. “Diet resolutions are often short-lived because our daily lives and social connections reflect our old habits,” says Misti Gueron M.S., RD. “But taking a little time to plan and organize your physical and social environment will pay off in the long run.” So if your resolution is to eat more fruits and vegetables, set a reminder on your phone to grocery shop at a set time each week and choose your favorite fruits and vegetables that are most convenient for your lifestyle. No matter what your goals are, decide what healthy resolutions would be easiest and most enjoyable for you, and then set a plan for success.

3. Have a high-protein breakfast. You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. Eating a healthy breakfast can increase overall nutrient intake, boost immunity, sharpen memory, improve mood and help with weight management. “Eat breakfast every day. This is a tangible, easy daily resolution that tends to stick because it gets quick results,” says Misti Gueron, M.S., RD. To get the most out of your morning meal, make sure you get adequate protein to keep you feeling satisfied and full until your next meal. Protein-rich breakfast items include eggs, nuts, nut butters, seeds (e.g., chia and flaxseed) and yogurt without added sugar.

4. Get in the game. Have you ever tried to turn your weight loss goals into a game? It may sound silly, but but this may be a successful way to achieve healthy eating, exercise and weight control. “Gamification of weight loss is when large groups of people are offered financial as well as other incentives to be involved in a competitive challenge with others. Grouping people together in an effort to encourage healthy habits can foster member camaraderie and commonality, challenge and excitement and furthered learning about getting healthier,” says Misti Gueron, M.S., RD. “And in these scenarios, many individuals have gotten healthier, minimized or eradicated health problems and changed the course of their lives.”

5. Recruit support. Who you surround yourself with is a critical component of your ability to reach and maintain your goals. “Without support from our friends and families, we’re much less likely to create healthy changes with our health and weight. And reaching new health goals is more achievable within a supportive environment and with individuals of similar values,” says Misti Gueron, M.S., RD. Take a look at the people in your life and make an effort to spend quality time with those that support and inspire you.

Did you set any diet or fitness goals for the coming year? Are there any strategies here you find helpful? Share your thoughts — I’d love to hear what you think!