How to Make Resolutions into Habits

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Ah, January—the month when many of us make resolutions, plans, and promises to make healthier food choices, work out more often, or otherwise implement lifestyle changes that could lead to better health. But three weeks into January, the challenge now is as much sticking to a plan as it is making one.

Even among dietitians, experts at helping others stick to healthy habits, it can sometimes feel difficult to stay on track with goals and resolutions. To stay accountable, I like to plan workouts with friends—the companionship and conversation makes time fly by! I asked other UWMC dietitians to share their best practices for sticking with healthful habits—not just in the New Year, but year-round.

Here is what they had to say:

Be compassionate with yourself

Judy Simon, MS, RDN, CD, CHES, FAND, says, “Be compassionate with yourself when making lifestyle changes. Self-compassion can help you stop blaming or shaming yourself. It allows you to be attuned with your body and promote change in a personalized way for you.”

Love the list

Tina Hayashi, RD, CD, CNSC, endorses listing exercise or food related goals on your to-do list so you can have the satisfaction of checking them off. She has also been using habit tracker apps Productive and Streaks on her phone, “to monitor frequency of good habits.”

Reframe and reward

Liz Spiess, MS, RD, CD, suggests reframing exercise appointments in a positive light. “When it’s difficult to get out the door to exercise, I remind myself: I don’t have to work out today, I GET to work out today.”

Focus on food

Kristine Carlson, MS, RD, CD, CNSC, suggests eating, “at least one meal per day at your dining table, in a quiet, peaceful environment (i.e., not in front of a screen—even your phone) where you can focus on the flavors, textures, and colors of your food.”

Share something new

Julie Marnadi, RD, CD, advocates family dinners (try for 2-3 times per week as possible). On at least one of those nights, Marnadi suggests having the family try a new dish. “This makes me get excited about cooking something new and not repetitive,” she says. “You’ll also always learn something new about your family’s likes and dislikes.”

This winter, try one or a few of these practices and, come spring, see if those resolutions haven’t turned into new, healthful, habits.

Elizabeth Lagerquist, MS, RD, CD, is a Registered Dietitian working in the Neonatal ICU and Labor & Delivery units at the University of Washington Medical Center. When she isn’t working, she enjoys running, reading, and cooking whole foods for her family.