A New Year and a New Me!

As we say goodbye to 2013, it is time to reflect on all of our accomplishments over the past year, while the excitement of starting a new year gives us a sense for new beginnings.

I think it is fantastic that at this time  many of us have the motivational drive to make changes and try to set new health goals. Sadly, come February, the momentum has begun to wear away and we lose our drive to stick to the goals that we set.

A good way to avoid this lack of momentum is to take some time to reflect before being so quick to pick your goals for 2014

First and foremost, it is important to make sure you have a clear vision of where you would like to see yourself (i.e., how do you want to feel? how do you want to look?). Then ask yourself this: What is it exactly that I am willing to do to get to this point? This is the tricky part.

The key element to successful behavioral change is to start small and work up to your long-term goals.  Think back to a time when you may have felt a lack of motivation after you were trying to make changes.

  • What was it about the changes you made that you couldn’t stick with them?
  • Were you too strict with yourself?
  • Did you allow yourself any flexibility in your routine?
  • Did you develop an all-or-nothing mentality?

Then try reflecting on these:

  • What is your long-term goal?
  • What are the current barriers that prevent you from reaching your goal?
  • What simple things can you do to help remove some of these barriers?

Pick a few smaller and simpler goals to work on that will help you find solutions in working with these barriers.

Here are tips to help you find ways around your nutritional barriers:

  1. Sweet tooth – Try cutting back on portions and frequency. Choose more fruits – at least two per day.
  2. Veggie hater – Which veggies do you like? First focus on increasing your intake of the ones you like. The goal is to make sure you have a vegetable at both lunch and dinner. A side salad is a great starting point.
  3. Breakfast skipper – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Many people don’t feel hungry in the morning so they skip breakfast; but your body needs fuel.  Train your body to want breakfast.  Start by having something small, like a banana, glass of low-fat milk, slice of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, or a low-fat yogurt.
  4. Soda/juice drinker – Cut the number of sodas or other calorie-rich beverages you drink per day or per week in half. Keep a water bottle handy to sip throughout the day. If you find water to be too plain, your taste buds need training. Drinking ice-cold water or water with lemon can help make it more enjoyable.
  5. Meal skipper – Make an effort to eat a healthy snack or meal every 3-4 hours.
  6. Mindless eater – Keeping a food log really helps bring awareness to everything you eat. There are some great apps for smart phones that make logging easy, i.e., Lose It!, FitnessPal and CalorieCounter.
  7. Lack of exercise – The goal is to get your body in motion. Focus on making sure your body moves more than the few steps you take to get to the bathroom at work and at home. If you are on your feet at work, that’s great; but in order to see weight loss, you have to do more than you normally do on a daily basis.

Setting healthy goals and working on a plan can be challenging. If you need help, you can make an appointment with a registered dietitian at Baptist Hospital’s Outpatient Nutritional Services by calling 786-596-7219.

natalie-castro-204x300About Natalie Castro-Romero, M.S., R.D., LDN

Natalie Castro-Romero is the Chief Wellness Dietitian for corporate wellness at Baptist Health South Florida. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from Florida International University.  She completed her master’s degree in nutrition and exercise science at the State University of New York, University at Buffalo. Ms. Romero is certified in adult weight management and works passionately to improve the health of both adults and children. Her clinical experience includes working with patients suffering from gastrointestinal disorders and critically ill patients in intensive care.  In addition, she has conducted research on eating behaviors and pediatric obesity.  Her research has been published in several peer-reviewed medical journals.

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