By Kim Duke, NETA & AFAA Certified Trainer

A new year has arrived and resolutions are everywhere. Often those resolutions involve a change of diet and exercise, and advertisers know it. Commercials are pushing Hydroxycut ® gummies and NutriSystem’s ® meal options. News shows are hyping the latest trends in fitness such as the paleo diet or caveman workout or bodyweight training (think squats, lunges, planks and push-ups). But, let’s be real, making healthy choices can be tough, especially when it come to food.

We live in an era of sedentary jobs and fast food options.  Even if we are not going through a drive thru for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we are still inundated with microwavable options that are quick and claim to be healthy!  In fact, many of these options are so loaded with sodium and preservatives that our bodies’ filtration systems are the only things getting a workout.

So what should you do in the new year? My answer is: don’t make a “resolution.”

Statistics show that over 30 percent of people give up on their resolutions before the end of January, and another 30 percent quit before the end of May. In fact, only eight percent of people succeed in keeping the promises they made as that ball dropped.

Recently, I spoke at length with a friend who has put on a lot of weight in his belly area. He said he was going to do the Slimfast® diet to lose weight – basically a shake for breakfast, one for lunch and a healthy dinner. He felt that would be a quick and easy way to lose the weight, especially since he has a sedentary job and little time to squeeze in workouts.

I was not on board with this approach for so many reasons.  Instead, I suggested creating healthier options for him at all meal times. We talked about fiber being an excellent way to feel full between meals.  That instead of relying on too many processed ‘bars’ as snacks, fresh veggies like celery, carrots and peppers were excellent choices.  Yes, there is more planning involved and some preparation that needs to be done, but in the long-run his body will respond better to real nutrition vs. processed nutrition.  We discussed relying on vegetable drinks as a source of nutrition.  Here again, I warned him about drinks that pretend to be healthy when in fact they are loaded with sodium and sugar, two of the leading weight sabotages.  I suggested water with fresh lemon in it.  The lemon not only provides a hint of flavor, it also helps to detoxify the body.

These small changes will make a huge difference in the long run.  Exercise will also help to energize my friend, but taking on too much, as a resolution is often the reason for failure.  So, one step at a time will do for now.

There is a process we all must go through in order to get ourselves to our goals.  It does not happen quickly, especially when reshaping our bodies and our lifestyles are involved. You did not put that weight on overnight and you certainly did not lose your athletic edge after one week away from the gym.  However, spend one week in a fitness routine and I dare you not to already feel better about yourself.  Start making those small changes to your diet and I swear you will start seeing small changes in your body as well.

If you focus on the process, methods and techniques you use working toward the goal—like how many steps you take each day, getting enough protein, fiber, and healthy fat in your diet, and sleeping at least seven hours a night—studies show you’ll be more successful. Celebrate how hard you’re working and how dedicated you are, rather than how close you’ve come to an end goal.