7 Strategies for Successful Health Change

The start of each year marks a new beginning, and many people resolve to improve their health. Changing diet habits and/or losing weight is a common resolution.

If you are thinking about a new diet or losing weight, you might find these resources helpful:

Keep in mind that changing health behaviors is difficult, but certainly not impossible:  it helps if you view the change as a process, and not a one-time effort.  You should expect some ups and downs as you try to achieve new goals. Remember to celebrate small successes, and don’t blame yourself if you fail. Instead, try to figure out what barriers stood in your way to help you devise a better plan to succeed.

Here are seven strategies that will improve your chances of success.

Be realistic.  Setting realistic goals will help you achieve better results.

Setting "SMART" goals will help your chances of success
Setting “SMART” goals will help your chances of success

Make a plan. Think about the changes you need to make to achieve your goal and make a plan. Most experts recommend setting achievable short-term goals that will help you meet your ultimate goal.

Be confident & committed.  Individuals who believe that they can change their behavior have a much better chance at succeeding.

Be positive. Think of adding new healthful behaviors instead of focusing on what you’re giving up. For example, if you’re trying to reduce your intake of a favourite junk food (for example, potato chips or soda), focus on healthful foods you can add to your diet, instead of thinking about foods you need to consume less often.

Plan for lapses. Consider situations that have prevented you from achieving your goals, and figure out what you will do when these circumstances arise.

Review your surroundings. Remove cues that may lead to unhealthy behaviors, and surround yourself with things that will help you achieve your goals: for example, healthful snacks are more likely if you remove the cookies from your pantry but keep bright fruits and vegetables visible. You’ll find some good tricks here.

Keep track of your progress. Regular monitoring and feedback is very helpful for changing a behavior. Keep track of your progress with diaries, charts, notes on a calendar, or regular weight checks.

Here’s a great video on evidence and strategies for New Year’s resolutions by Dr. Mike Evans.


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