New You

Be SMART to a Healthy New You: Tips for Setting & Achieving Your Health Goals!

January 1, 2016

Get Ready For A New You!

Are you ready to begin working on a new you? There are six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. By the time the Thanksgiving dishes are put away, I feel I’m on the Polar Express, traveling through the season at lightning speed. I’ve made a few stops at holiday parties and celebrations along the way. It seems that I've been transported ahead to Times Square, and I find myself making a New Year’s Resolution.

I used to be good at the “Pie in the Sky” type of resolutions, especially with weight management. Many of us feel we put on extra weight over the past holiday season, and that’s why losing weight is a popular resolution.

Don't Be in the 54% for New Year's Resolutions

Here’s a fun fact, according to a New York Times best selling author, Tasha Eurcih, Ph.D,. reports 54% of New Year’s resolutions are given up within 6 months, and only 8% succeed by the end of the year.

According to the National Institutes of Health, in the six week period between Thanksgiving and New Years, the average weight gain that a person with a normal BMI will gain is .8 pounds. The average weight a person with the condition of being overweight or obese might gain an average of 5 pounds. We need to look at the effect on your health long-term. Think of it like this. If you did not lose weight each year, over a decade, that would mean a gain of 10-50 pounds. Maybe that’s why losing weight is a popular New Year’s Resolution.

To be successful, we need to be ready. Dr. John Norcross, a leading expert on how people change addictive behaviors, and professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, found in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, New Year’s resolutions made before January 1, where the individual was ready to change with the skills in place to help, celebrated more positive outcomes.

Be SMART to Accomplish Your Goals for a New You

The key to a meaningful resolution is a S.M.A.R.T Plan. This allows us to break it down into small, manageable steps. Sure, you want to get back on track with exercise, but signing up for a half-marathon may have you sustaining an injury and prevent you from achieving your resolution goal!  Using a Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound plan, you can achieve your resolution.

Let's walk through your goal to participate in a 5K using SMART:

Specific: I’m going to walk 500 more steps or .25 miles more 4 days this week.
Measurable:  Track using your phone, or Fitbit, or MapMyWalk
Attainable:  I can do this with my new schedule (while waiting for an activity to finish)
Relevant:  This helps me towards my goal of getting back into exercising more.
Time-Bound:  This is your goal, for just this week.

When you achieve your goal, reward yourself. Catch up on a show you recorded or pay yourself by starting a ‘reward jar,’ and tip yourself, great for spare change!

Uncertain of where to begin making your resolution? Try journaling your food, mood, and exercise habits. Self-monitoring can help us determine where to start. You can use the OH Goal system to log your goal and work toward it. Many of us are familiar with self-tracking apps.  Find one you like or use a notebook with motivational messages.

According to a 2013 Pew Report, people who engage in self-monitoring behaviors are more successful at changing those behaviors.

Remember to T.H.M.F.E. to Reach Your Goals for a New You

I use this acronym: T.H.M.F.E or Time, Hunger. Mindfulness, Food, and Exercise as a valuable tool.


  • What time did you start and finish?
  • Are you a grazer?  Resolve to planned meal times.
  • Do you wait too long between meals?  Resolve to start adding a high protein snack. This might be why you are overeating.


  • What is your hunger level? Are you satisfied or stuffed? Are you starving to the point you might pass out?
  • Resolve to pay attention to feelings of hunger and when you last ate.
  • Resolve to slow down your meal pace to feel satisfied at the end of a meal.
  • Start to pay more attention to how well you are chewing and enjoying the flavors of your food.


  • What is your mood?  Which emoji would best describe your mood? Many of us use food to cope with emotions. Resolve to find alternative ways to cope.
  • Resolve to go back to your monthly support group meetings or make an appointment with someone who can help you actively and more healthfully manage the emotions you are feeling.


  • Are you eating out more or choosing more high fat, high carb, and sugary foods?  Resolve to plan choices ahead.
  • Resolve to start measuring out your food.
  • Shop with a grocery list and a meal plan. Resolve to follow up with your dietitian!


  • If you currently are not exercising or active, resolve to start five minutes 3 times/week.
  • Find an exercise activity that you’ll enjoy and not punish yourself with.
  • If you love to dance or walk, alternate days of each to keep you motivated and engaged in having fun!
  • Resolve to start a hobby, maybe woodworking, knitting, coloring, or anything that interests you.

Once you form your plan, keep journaling.  Journaling will help you know if you need to reassess your resolution or build a new success plan. Make sure to be realistic, and keep in mind, ‘slow and steady,’ will keep you fulfilling your New Year’s resolution, all year long! You aren't limited to New Year's to start a New You - you can start anytime.  There's no time like the present!

Have a Happy and Healthy New You!

Read more articles by Elaine Lozano, MS, RDN on ObesityHelp!

New You


Elaine Lozano, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian and currently works with Inova Weight Loss Surgery Program. Elaine has practiced all over the world, and has over ten years of nutrition education experience. Elaine is interested in coaching individuals to help them achieve a healthy relationship with their nutrition, and ultimately a healthy lifestyle.

Read more articles by Elaine!