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Do you make resolutions for the new year? Do you stick to them? One of the most common resolutions for a new year is to lose weight. Of the people who make resolutions, roughly 45 percent (around 100 million folks) vow to lose weight. Or maybe your resolution is to eat better, exercise, be a better person, or even start meditating. Resolutions can be good– they motivate us to change! Striving to better yourself is a great goal. Gyms and yoga studios are packed in January. On the other hand, when March rolls around and the momentum has worn off, how do we get back on track Or stay on track?

Whether or not you make resolutions, a new year is always a good time to take a mental inventory. Do some emotional cleansing. What’s working for you? What patterns are you holding on to? What do you want to let go of? It’s easy to get stuck and feel comfortable. But sometimes the “all or nothing” approach can backfire. For some, taking smaller steps to achieve a goal works better. What has worked best for you in the past? Cold turkey, or easing into it? From my perspective in my years of working with clients, the cold turkey jump-right-in approach is more successful, especially when it comes to weight loss or cutting out certain foods (sugar, for example). Sugar has such a drug-like effect on the body that tapering down can actually make cravings worse.

Here are a few tips to help you stick to your guns.

1. If your goal is weight loss, don’t go the fad route. Avoid the grapefruit diet, the South Beach Diet, and cabbage diet, or the liquid Master Cleanses. These work–temporarily. But you haven’t corrected the underlying cause of your weight gain, or addressed new eating patterns. Although it’s easier said than done (eat less and exercise more), if you’ve tried diets before and failed, consider that stress hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, food allergies, and detox issues can all affect your ability to lose weight. Consulting with a nutritionist can help you identify what foods are right for you, and testing can identify hormonal or digestive issues. Also, set actual numerical goals (I want to lose 30 pounds) and write down an action plan with concrete ways you’ll achieve this.

2. Be realistic about setting up a routine. If you’re going to start exercising, starting out by running every day might not be the best option. Your body responds best to different types of exercise, and interval training works better than pounding the pavement for hours. Better for your joints, too.

3. Keep a journal for your triumphs and defeats. You can learn a lot about yourself by going back and reading old entries. Also–see how far you’ve progressed!

4. Enlist the help of a buddy — and use him/her for support!

5. Reward yourself when you meet quarter or half way goals. Make it a shopping spree, a short trip, a weekend getaway with friends, a massage. Something to look forward to and to keep you on track. Don’t use food as a reward.

6. Also, remember: it’s not easy, but getting through the first 21 days is the hardest part. It takes that long to break a habit and establish new habits. Regarding weight loss, there is no reason you need to constantly fight cravings. Are you waking up thinking about pasta, cake, cookies, sugar, chips? It could be low serotonin or dopamine. It could be low adrenal hormone levels. It could be bad bacteria in the gut, like candida albicans overgrowth. There are many, many physiological reasons that people have cravings and have trouble managing weight. It’s not just a case of low willpower. Find out the underlying reasons for your habits or health concerns.

Happy New Year!