MARSHFIELD, Wis., Dec. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Most people would agree that New Year's diet resolutions are made with the best intentions but broken quickly when many of us slip back into our old ways. "We often fail because we're not aware of all the steps required to make a lasting change in our lives. Just wishing you were 50 pounds lighter is not going to make it happen," says Cindy Stenavich, a registered dietitian with Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield, Wis. "That's why we've created a simple form that helps people develop a plan that will help them stick to their diet resolutions. The form, available online, is based on the notion that there are specific steps you need to take to change behavior over time and unless you do that, you won't succeed." Stenavich says you first need to be aware of what you need to change and have a compelling reason to do it. Then you need to commit in writing to make the change, including having a simple and flexible plan for how to achieve it. "Many people approach dieting with an all-or-nothing attitude. Instead, once you have your resolution in writing, you can modify it if it's not working for you. The goal is to be healthier and happier, not healthier and miserable," says Stenavich. For example, Stenavich says giving up a favorite snack or treat can be difficult, so finding a healthier substitute is one key to success. "If you give up that half cup of nuts you snack on after work and eat carrots and dip or pretzels instead, you'll save thousands of calories over the course of the year. Likewise, replacing your weekday doughnut with an English muffin could save you 350 calories a day -- or 91,000 calories a year -- which can add up to 26 pounds of weight loss with that one change," says Stenavich. "You don't have to give up all of your favorite foods. Just making small changes can add up to big results," she says. Easy Steps to Success Stenavich recommends these easy steps for making and keeping New Year's diet resolutions: -- Be aware - Ask yourself what behavior you need to change and write it down. -- Know your reason - Ask yourself why you want to change. Is it to fit into a certain pair of jeans or to live a long healthy life? Use this desire as a motivation tool. -- Make the decision - Make a conscious commitment to change. -- Identify what you want to change - Put in writing the behavior you want to change and identify a more positive behavior to take its place. For example, "I'll cut back on ice cream and eat fresh fruit instead." -- Develop a plan in writing - Put in writing how you plan to change the old behavior and how you plan to reinforce the substitute behavior. For example, "I'll only eat ice cream for dessert one night per week. Instead, I'll keep my refrigerator stocked with fresh fruit." Be specific and realistic - small steps equal a better chance for success. -- Make yourself accountable - Work with a positive person in your life - a friend, a family member or a registered dietitian - to reinforce your new behavior over time. -- Evaluate if it's working - Along the way, ask yourself if your plan is working and modify it as needed to allow yourself to continue to make progress. For example, if waking up at 5:30 in the morning to exercise is not going to happen, try another time. While many of us designate January 1 as the time to start a new diet and exercise program, it's important for people to pick the time that is right for them, says Stenavich. "Any day is a great day when you decide to improve your health." Easy Forms Available Online You can create a New Year's resolution plan for yourself using a form available at http://www2.marshfieldclinic.org/mc/releases/pdfs/NewYearResolution.pdf . The Marshfield Clinic system provides patient care, research and education with 38 locations in northern, central and western Wisconsin, making it one of the largest comprehensive medical systems in the United States.
SOURCE Marshfield Clinic