It’s that time of year again. Time for New Year’s resolution thoughts to begin swirling around in our minds. Before the clock strikes midnight on 1/1/2012, I thought I would issue a few tips and reminders for those with weight loss as their resolution for the coming year.

1. Set Realistic Goals!
Big goals are important. But goals you can’t realistically achieve are just a big downer. And when it comes to weight loss, arbitrary numbers and dates often don’t add up. For example, “I want to lose 20 pounds by January 31” may not be an appropriate or healthy goal for some people. Make these decisions based on your body and what’s right and healthy for you. Consulting with your physician before beginning is always a great place to start.

2. Visualize Achievement.
Now that you’ve set a realistic goal for your weight loss, keep it top of mind with some mental-guided imagery. This really isn’t psycho-babble. Scientific studies have shown that when a person can visualize a goal, clearly and often, they are more likely to reach or exceed it. If some measure of weight loss is your goal, perhaps you might try visualizing yourself in that dress you haven’t fit into in ages. You can even pull it out of the closet and hang it somewhere that you’ll frequently see it. Tangible reminders of a goal are a great way to keep working hard at it, especially when the going gets tough.

3. Take it One Day at a Time.
Do you know why a huge percentage of people drop their weight-loss resolutions by mid-January? It’s largely because they tried to change too much, too quickly. Old habits are hard to break for a reason. Most who are able to stick to and eventually achieve their goals, take it one day at a time, or in some cases, one week at a time. Maybe this week you’ll commit to switching from low-fat to non-fat milk. Next week, it’s at least 30 minutes of heart-pumping exercise twice a week. These may seem like small changes, but I promise you they can add up to huge rewards over the long haul.

4. Get Support!
As humans, the last thing we want to feel is alone. Isolation is depressing and when it comes to body-weight, depression can often go hand-in-hand with an unhealthy relationship with food. Banish depression and isolation in achieving your goals by surrounding yourself with supportive, encouraging people who are working to achieve similar results. If you’re post-bariatric surgery or just beginning to consider it, attend a support group meeting at one of our several locations. There you’ll find people with similar struggles but the same “I can do this” attitude that you need to overcome the hurdles and obstacles that can present themselves when you’re trying to achieve your goals.

5. Reward Milestones.
Incentives don’t just work for kids. They can help motivate us adults too. Rewards are an important part of achieving long-term goals. With weight-loss goals, you might consider purchasing a new piece of clothing you’ve had your eye on when you reach a milestone–perhaps it’s the first 10 pounds lost of your 25 pound goal. Whatever your reward is, just be sure it isn’t tied to food. Rewarding yourself with a weekend food binge is really just making it tougher for you to achieve what you ultimately want.

Whether your goal is weight loss or something else entirely, I hope you’ve found value in these tips. For having the courage to make a New Year’s Resolution at all, I applaud you. Congratulations on taking that first step and best wishes for the achievement of your ultimate goal.

I wish you a happy and healthy 2012.