Tips For Keeping Healthy Resolutions

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Health-related goals, including losing weight or improving diets, often top the list of most common New Year’s resolutions — but that might not mean much if, as data from University of Scranton researchers suggests, only about 8 percent of people keep such promises through the end of the year.

In order to gain some insight on maintaining health-related goals, we turned to someone whose job it is to help people stay on track with such pursuits: local registered dietitian and nutritionist Lisa Matsunaga.

Matsunaga had studied psychology at University of California, San Diego. But after graduating, she traveled to different countries — Spain, Ghana and Japan, among them — and discovered her passion for food. These days, Matsunaga runs a private practice based in Honolulu, where she helps clients manage weight, provides nutrition therapy for various conditions and aims to increase clients’ general wellness.

Here, Matsunaga shares some tips to help you achieve your health and wellness-related resolution.

1. Make your goals concrete and actionable.

If the resolution you made for the new year does not entail specific actions, you might need to rethink it. Reaching goals, Matsunaga says, is more attainable with a game plan. It also helps you break down a big, overarching life change into a manageable action.

“Instead of saying ‘I’m going to lose weight this year,”‘ say you’ll aim to lose one pound a week by exercising three times a week and swapping out soda with water at work,” Matsunaga explains.

2. Make your resolution enjoyable.

Resolving to eat a salad every day for lunch sounds like a healthy choice, but the bottom line is that it won’t work if you hate salads.

“Find a healthy activity you enjoy, and you’ll be much more likely to stick with it,” Matsunaga advises.

3. Don’t go hungry.

If you are trying to stay on track with a diet, doing something as simple as going to a restaurant or dinner party can be challenging. The menu or potluck spread likely will be riddled with temptations. One easy way to offset cravings is to eat a little bit before you go.

“I always have some nuts or a light snack before an event so I’m not reaching for everything I see when I get there,” Matsunaga says.

Going out to eat, in fact, is one of the biggest challenges that Matsunaga sees with her clients in general. She suggests a good way around this is to cook at home more. And while not everybody has time to cook regularly, she suggests preparing meals in bulk ahead of time. (Oatmeal and soups are easy to do in large batches, she says.)

And if you’re going to a pot-luck, she suggests contributing a healthy dish that you like, so that you can indulge in something even if everyone else brought fried foods and desserts.

4. Set reasonable goals.

New Year’s resolutions are inherently optimistic — they come with the notion that we can all be better in the coming year. But there’s a line between optimism and being unrealistic.

“Saying ‘I’m going to stop eating sugar’ is not realistic,” Matsunaga says. “Instead, you could say, ‘I’ll allow myself one sweet treat a week.’ That way, you won’t feel deprived and you won’t feel like you’ve failed just because of one cookie.”

In order to help you identify what’s reasonable for you to achieve when it comes to dieting, Matsunaga suggests starting by keeping a food journal.

“Write down everything you eat and drink from the moment you wake up until you go to bed for a week,” she explains.

With everything written out, you should be able to see what areas you can improve upon. Then tackle one thing at a time.

5. Keep going.

With any goal, there will be setbacks and times when you don’t quite hit your mark — and that’s OK.

“One bump in the road isn’t going to derail your long-term goals,” Matsunaga says. “Expect them, allow them, and keep moving forward.”

FOR MORE FROM MATSUNAGA, VISIT HER WEBSITE AT HAWAIIRD.COM.