Stanford University reports that every year the top ten list of resolutions includes weight loss and exercise (New Year’s Resolutions – note clicking on this site, you are leaving the VA site, VA does not specifically endorse this entity). Resolutions can be helpful but we often start the year unprepared to meet our goals. This leaves us quitting before the end of January.
We can achieve our resolutions of eating better and exercising by planning for success. There’s nothing magic about January 1st; we can start anytime.
March is National Nutrition Month®. The VA theme: #OwnIt: Make Nutrition Work for You! is meant to encourage Veterans to take responsibility for their health by choosing nutritious foods and increasing activity.
Here are a few tips to help you “Own It” this year, even if your year of healthy changes starts in March.
- Take time to decide your goals and write an action plan. VA Dietitians can help. Individual counseling, group classes, Healthy Teaching Kitchen classes, and TeleHealth are some of the options that may be available at your local VA. Contact your local VA today to find out what options would be best for you to #Own It.
- Set SMART goals. Specific, measurable goals can motivate you to continue when you encounter a barrier.
- #OwnIt by preparing more meals at home by keeping a well-stocked pantry of staples. Limiting dining out and grabbing food on the run typically leads to more nutritious meals.
- Don’t expect perfection. Learn to be okay when you splurge or ate more than you intended to. These decisions do not define your failure or success when you turn them into an opportunity. Assess the situation and decide if it’s a choice you can ‘own’ or a chance to make a change. Evaluate what happened and figure out how to do it differently next time.
- Use daily reminders. Post motivational sticky notes to remind you why you want to make healthy changes and put them in places you will see daily. You can set periodic alarms on your cell phone – use them to remind you to drink water or take a quick walk.
- Get healthy with friends. Groups like the MOVE!® Weight Management Program can provide encouragement. Everyone is working towards the same goals and encountering similar barriers. “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much more”—Helen Keller.
With a plan in place and people to support you, you can eat healthier, exercise more, and make a real difference in your health. Will you “Own it” this year?
Cheryl Monroe MS, RD, LD is a Clinical Dietitian at the Jack C Montgomery VA in Muskogee, OK. She is married with 6 kids and 6 grandchildren. She enjoys hanging out with her family, reading, listening to music, and spoiling her grandchildren.