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5 Resolutions Your Doctor Wishes You’d Made

Not sure if you’ll be able to follow through on your goal to lose weight? Here are five resolutions you’d be better off committing to

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The problem with your resolution

New Year’s resolutions are made with the best of intentions, but according to a 2007 survey by British psychologist Richard Wiseman, 88 percent of all resolutions end in failure. Why? “Too many people make these resolutions that are far too strict, and not surprisingly, they don’t last overly long,” says Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, a medical doctor, assistant professor at the University of Ottawa and founder of Ottawa’s Bariatric Medical Institute.

We asked Dr. Freedhoff, who writes about nutrition and obesity on his blog, Weighty Matters, to share five resolutions he wishes people would make.

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1. Make a realistic resolution you actually like

A lot of people make the mistake of setting hopes and dreams, rather than resolutions, says Dr. Freedhoff. “The resolution should be set around the behaviours that might actually make those hopes come true,” he says.

Freedhoff suggests making a resolution to only eat out twice a month, pack a lunch every day of the week or track how many calories you’re consuming each day. Plus, let’s face it, resolving to never eat sweets, or to spend at least an hour at the gym every day is a goal you’re going to quickly grow to hate-and as a result, give up on.

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healthy family dinner

2. Have more family meals

Adding at least one more family meal to your schedule is a very doable resolution, says Dr. Freedhoff. And note that that meal shouldn’t involve takeout. Ideally the meal should be cooked together from fresh, whole ingredients, he says. “It teaches kids the life skill of cooking, it creates a greater sense of family, and we know that family meals are helpful in reducing a lot of negative teenage behaviours.”

Take the time each evening to pack a lunch for not just yourself, but your children as well. “This is another resolution that can make a huge difference in a family’s health.”

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group fitness class gym

3. Schedule exercise into your week

“There is nothing more beneficial to your health than exercise,” says Dr. Freedhoff. “Treat it like something that has value, not something that you just randomly do when you get a chance.”

For example, “saying ‘I’m going to exercise more often’ is not a resolution, but saying ‘I’m going to go for a walk that’s 10-minutes long every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during lunchtime at work is,” he says, emphasizing the importance of scheduling that fitness time in. “You have to make room in your life for your resolutions.”

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4. Only drink calories that are worth it

“Liquid calories are the low-hanging fruit of the weight-loss tree,” says Dr. Freedhoff. “Whether it’s creams and coffee, juice or milk, or alcohol or soft drinks, I don’t think there is a beverage out there that has enough nutritional benefits to be worth its calories,” he says. “That doesn’t mean not drinking any calories, it just means only drinking ones that are worth it.”

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5. Cut out your one worst meal

And, finally, an easy way to eat healthier without making a lot of changes, is to cut out your one worst meal, says Dr. Freedhoff. “Find the one meal that might taste good, but is truly the worst one in your home, and stop making it.”

Think you’ve got a resolution you’ll be able to stick to this year? Dr. Freedhoff suggests evaluating your resolution with a one-question litmus test. “Ask yourself, ‘Could I keep doing this for the rest of my life?’ If the answer is no, you’ve got to find something else to do,” he says. “If it’s going to be a temporary effort, you’ll only have a temporary outcome.”

Related:
The worst weight loss resolutions
How to build an exercise resolution you’ll stick with
6 willpower killers and how to beat them