Resolutions are fine - but action is better

January 2, 2011 

Like many people, you probably have made a few New Year's resolutions in your lifetime, pledging to eat healthier or better control your weight. And if you're like most people, you never get past the Super Bowl party with your resolution intact.

Since a resolution is a decision to make a change and not an action that produces change, it is easy to see why so many resolutions never produce the desired result.

So this year, try a new approach. Instead of making a resolution to eat healthier or lose weight – one that is likely to quickly fade away – why not create an action plan that will provide positive rewards within the first week? It’s easy. All you need is a pencil, a piece of paper, and a little bit of determination to be on your way to a healthier you. There are only five steps to creating an action plan.

Step 1: Choose something you want to do. Many of us do things we think we should do or something someone else thinks we should do. This important first step really needs to be something you want to do. For example, maybe you think you should start cooking from all those healthy food cookbooks in your garage, but if you don’t want to, your action plan will likely end before it even gets off the ground. Maybe a loved one thinks you should keep a food diary of everything you eat, but you would rather run your fingernails down a chalkboard. You need to decide what you want to do.

Step 2: Choose something that is achievable in one week’s time. Making an action plan each week will help you take small steps toward your long-term goal of healthier eating or losing weight.

Step 3: Choose something that is action-specific. This means you need to “do” something. Eating healthier or losing weight are great goals, but they are not actions. For instance, maybe you will choose to eat fruit for your afternoon snack instead of that candy bar from the vending machine. Or maybe you will skip that second helping at dinner.

Step 4: Answer the following questions: What will you do? How much will you do it? When will you do it? How often will you do it? An example of an action plan would be to eat one cup (how much) of your favorite fruit (what) for an afternoon snack (when) three days this week (how often).

Step 5: Make sure the action is something you have a high level of confidence that you can accomplish. Otherwise, it is likely you won’t complete your action plan.

For tips on other healthier eating action plans, visit www.MyPyramid.gov. To find a registered dietitian or nutrition expert in your area, go to www. eatright.org/programs/rdfinder.

Dr. Diana T. Yu is the health officer for Thurston and Mason counties. She can be reached at 360-867-2501 or yud @co.thurston.wa.us.

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