When it comes to making New Year's resolutions, many of us want to see that number on the scale change.
If you're planning to get a gym membership, start a new fitness class or even clear out all those chocolate chip cookies from your pantry, setting health goals is a good way to keep your resolutions on track, says Diane Dressel, a registered dietitian at the Mayo Clinic.
"People should have a specific goal like, losing 20 pounds, lifting a 20 pound weight or going up a flight of stairs," she says.
She also recommends starting slow . Don't aim for Olympic speed or entering a weight lifting competition if you're just starting out. "Start where you're at and build up from it and progress," she says. "That old theory out there 'no pain no gain' is too much in people's heads. Of course when there's pain people give up."
And if you're setting health resolutions for the family, Dressel says keeping a healthy lifestyle will make you a positive role model for your kids and family members. Try eating dinner together, working out together or planning family activities where everyone can get physical.
Here are seven ways to keep your health resolutions on track, according to Dressel.
For example, you may say "I would like to lose some weight this year," but it would better if you said, "I want to lose 50 pounds this year," says Diane Dressel, a registered dietitian at the Mayo Clinic.
With the right program, 50 pounds can be realistic. Ask the program you're considering what the average weight loss among participants is in a year. Depending on the program and its weight loss approach, you might need to set a smaller, more doable goal.
It doesn't have to be the magical date of "January 1." Look ahead to see which date or plan will support you the most -- and be realistic.
Behavior only changes from the positive. Remember there are programs to help you accomplish your goal. Also look ahead into the future, make a list of the "real" reasons you want to lose weight (your health, your family). When you lack reasons to change, it is easy to fall back into old habits.
You will need to change your environment to help with your weight goals. Get rid of food that won't help you realize your goal -- this should be part of your planning.
Changing your habits for good may affect your inner circle of friends. Let them know what you're trying to do, and enlist their support in helping you achieve your goal.
Give yourself another chance. Most people slip up at some point. The people who are successful are the ones who get back on track. Look at how many days you still have left in the calendar year and see what you can accomplish before the year is up. Keeping your goals is all about commitment, she says.