Make realistic resolutions
It's easier to get big results by making smaller, manageable changes rather than trying to do too much at one time. Most diet-related resolutions actually require several simultaneous behavior changes: You not only have to shop and cook differently, you need to make different choices at restaurants and parties. Only you know how much you can handle; be honest with yourself about what you can accomplish and how much weight you can lose. When formulating your goals, avoid making draconian pledges. "Absolutes like 'I'm giving up all sweets' or 'I'll never eat butter again' set you up to try to get around your own overly strict rules," says Connie Stapleton, Ph.D., a psychologist in Augusta, GA. Instead, try drafting more limited restrictions like "I'll have dessert only when I'm in a fancy restaurant."
Compose a weight-loss contract
Commit your aspirations to paper and post them in places where you'll see them often (on the refrigerator, above your desk, on a bathroom mirror). Not only will it keep you accountable, but it just may (re)inspire you.
Sweat the small stuff
While it's helpful to have big-picture goals, also concentrate on the small stuff as you go along. Make resolutions that require small acts of will, not weeks of vigilance. For instance: "This week I'm going to work on drinking less soda and more water" or "This week is devoted to eating more whole grains." You'll feel good when you accomplish each goal, and your success will help bolster your resolve - the better you are at making small changes, the greater your sense of accomplishment will be, and the easier it will be for you to keep going. Write down your successes as you go, and post them, too, to provide a visual reminder.
Once you've written down your new nutrition and pound-loss goals, don't stop recording. Keeping a food diary is another way to up the odds you'll successfully slim down. Now it's easier than ever to keep track of what you're eating. There are many food diaries available, both hard-copy and online versions. Any time you're out and don't have access to your diary, note down what you've consumed on a little pad or, if you have a smart phone, simply text or e-mail yourself so you can add it to your diary later.
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