01/02/2012 10:19 EST

Healthy New Year's Resolutions: How To Stay On Track

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.

Photo gallery 7 Tips To Keep Your New Year's Health Resolutions See Gallery