How to Make a New Year’s Resolution Stick
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Goal setting to increase the success of your nutrition resolutions


Its that time of the year again where we reflect on the past year and often decide that we need to be better, healthier, nicer versions of ourselves…right?! Are you into the New Years resolution making process but find 3 weeks in your are back to your old ways?

Top New Year's reslolution for healthy eating

What are the most popular New Year’s resolutions?


The definition of a New Year’s resolution according to Wikipedia, is when a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behaviour, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.

Research has shown that up to 60 percent of people make New Year’s resolutions but only 8 percent are successful in achieving them long term. Less than 25 percent of people actually stay committed to their resolutions just after 31 days while more than half of people say they failed their resolution by January 31st.

The number one New Year’s resolution is in relation to diet or eating healthier. Number two is to exercise more while number 3 is to lose weight. Women often make more health-focused resolutions than men. Interesting how the top 3 resolutions all relate to health while the later ones focus more on money, learning a new skill, spending more time with people etc.


Why do New Year’s resolutions often fail?


In a world so focused on nutrition, health and exercise, we are aware that changes need to be made, but making them at the start of the year in a resolution style might not be the best method to see sustainable changes and allow you to ultimately reach your goals.

Some reasons why we fail to meet our New Year’s Resolutions:

  • over-commit to what we want to accomplish
  • set more than one resolution at at time
  • busy schedules
  • no accountability
  • lack of thought, thus poor follow through
  • lack of motivation

Often the reason we don’t meet our resolutions is due to the rash decision making nature as the clock is counting down to midnight and we have not put thought into the long term process it will require to sustain such habit changes.

A habit, is something that you do often and regularly, sometimes without knowing that you are doing it or a particular act or way of acting that you tend to do regularly.

Previously it was thought that it takes 21 days to change a habit, this however has been identified as a myth. Psychologists note that it can take 21 days to make a conscious and consistent effort to create a new habit, but it takes far longer to break an existing habit. In one study it took anywhere from 18 to 254 days for people to form a new habit. On average it takes more than 2 months, minimum 66 days to be exact to create a new behaviour and make it a regular habit.

Many things can dictate how long these new habits form – it depends on the person, the behaviour trying to be modified and external circumstances.

This year instead of making a New Years Resolution, lets focus on making sustainable goals, SMART goals.

Action Oriented
Time frame

Setting goals that are achievable is important in making changes. Setting SMART goals will help you focus on specific behaviours or skills you want to change and allow you to monitor those behaviours to ensure they are achievable in your life.


How to create a SMART goal:


  • choose a specific behaviour or topic you want to change
    • the more specific you are about your goal, the more you will be able to identify areas of success and what still need addressing.
    • what will you do? how will you do it? when will you start?


  • pick a measurement to allow you to track your progress, this will keep you motivated and moving forward
    • set a goal that can be measured and evaluated. This will help with tracking progress and see how to adjust. Often using times or volumes, or numbers is easier than just a blanket statement of ‘being healthier’ for example, increasing your vegetable intake is great, but saying you will have 1 cup of veggies at lunch and supper is even better and measurable.


  • note methods or actions on how you are going to achieve such goal, set a plan
    • set goals that you have control over and can address your behaviours or an action rather than focusing on feelings or thoughts. Such as saying you will reduce sweets (a craving) is much harder than saying you will add fruit for dessert after dinner instead of a cookie.


  • be realistic, take into consideration your lifestyle, commitments, finances etc. all the other factors that can impact your success and work with them, what is actually possible to achieve for YOU, not someone else
    • choosing a goal that you can actually achieve will help with its success, it will build your confidence and set you up for the long term. Goal’s you have tried before and not followed through are not the best place to start, or start small and build up.


  • set an identified time frame you want to achieve this goal by
    • focus on a set date to work on your goal this will help you keep focused and motivated, however don’t let that be the end of your goal. Use the date as a set point not an end point. Remember it will take over 2 months to make this new habit a regular change in your life.


One final note about making SMART goals…

Lastly, its not identified as a part of the SMART goal frame work, but I like to add a second ‘T’ to the list, SMARTT goals:

  • TELL A FRIEND, accountability is so important to success and can significantly impact ones outcome in relation to goal setting, ensure that you have a good support system to help you along the way

Goals also don’t just need to be set at the beginning of the year. You can set goals throughout the year and one after another once you have accomplished one, move onto another one.

Remember the reasons why you are aiming to achieve this goal and why it is important to you. Goals should be set for yourself, not for others, you are the most important person in your life.

Challenges will come, how you prepare for them and handle them is what is important. Spend sometime thinking about what you might face as you work on your goals and how you can navigate through them. Talk to someone who has achieved the goal for advice. If your struggling with your goal, you haven’t failed, continue to stay positive.

Reflect on the journey, build on what worked and identify what could change. We learn more from what goes wrong then what goes right, and maybe you need to adjust your goal slightly.

Lastly, celebrate your successes, no matter how small.

So this year, 2020, lets set goals, SMARTT goals, not resolutions!

You’ve got this!

Best healthy eating New Year's resolutions that work

Need more support on your New Year’s resolutions and healthy eating goals?

Contact our Calgary Dietitian / Online Nutritionist team for help!

As Registered Dietitians that specialize in meal planning, weight concerns, emotional eating, eating disorders, digestive health, heart health, diabetes, pediatric nutrition and sports nutrition we can see you in our local Calgary Nutritionist office or as an Online Dietitian by phone or video conferencing for virtual nutrition counseling. Find out more about our Dietitian Nutrition Counseling Programs here.

Join the waiting list for our next Online Nutrition Course The Pursuit of Healthiness.

As university trained Registered Dietitians, you can count on us for credible advice and practical meal planning so you don’t have to stress about food anymore. You can achieve a healthy and joyous relationship with food and your body. Let’s talk about what this can look like for you. CONTACT US.



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"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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