Every New Year’s Eve as the ball drops, you tell yourself that this will be the year you’re finally going to shed those pounds. While we give you major props for wanting to lose weight and make a healthy change in your life, the only issue is that resolutions—more often than not—don’t work.
In fact, 30 percent of all New Year’s resolutions are broken before February, according to a poll by the time management firm Franklin Covey.
It’s the nature of out-of-the-box resolutions that sets people up for failure. Often times, they are either too restrictive (“I’m going to cut out carbs”), not specific enough (“I’m going to lose weight”) or simply something you don’t genuinely want to change (“I’m going to become a vegan”— even though you love dairy and meat).
But we aren’t here to discourage you. Sticking to your resolution is absolutely possible if you change your goal-setting approach. We chatted with some the nation’s top diet experts to see which resolutions they feel are sure to stick. Their suggestions are easy to follow, attainable, and realistic. Read what they have to say, choose a goal you feel would work best for you and watch those pounds fly off! And to see results even faster, be sure to read up on these 55 Best-Ever Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.
Cut Back on Trash—Literally
“Resolve to cut down on the amount of trash you produce from food boxes, bags, plastic bottles and take-out containers. This simple act will not only decrease waste but it will also help you clean up your diet. You’ll start planning more, eating more real foods, ordering less take-out and spending more time in the kitchen! You will get healthy, decrease your carbon footprint and save money in the process.” — Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, dietitian for the Philadelphia Phillies and Flyers
Shake Up Your Routine
“Resolve to do something that’s both healthy and new once a week. Try a new way of preparing vegetables, participate in a Cross-Fit, Zumba or cooking class, go on a guided nature walk, or join a CSA [community-supported agriculture group] early to help with planting. The options are truly limitless, and doing new things is fun. It engages your mind, keeps you active, adds excitement to your life and helps you meet new people and develop supportive friendships. And, oh yeah, helps you lose weight, too!” — Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Stock Your Freezer
“Identify three meals you can prepare with pantry staples and start cooking. Store the meals in your freezer so you always have something healthy on hand when hunger strikes. For example, my go-to meals include risotto with frozen shrimp and asparagus, vegetable barley and a red lentil soup. Your goal should be to replace the meals whenever your stash starts running low.” — Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND, a Chicago area registered dietitian and nutrition communications consultant
Love the idea of stocking up on soup? Check out these 20 Best-Ever Fat Burning Soups.
“Make a resolution to get better sleep—eight hours of sleep every night is ideal. Sleep deprivation causes ghrelin, the hunger-stimulating hormone to go into overdrive while simultaneously reducing levels of leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite. In short: When you’re tired your hormones work against you, stimulating hunger even when you’re full which can lead to overeating and weight gain.” — Jim White RD, personal trainer and registered dietitian
“This year, make a commitment to meditate daily for ten minutes. The practice can help make you calmer and less emotionally reactive which, in turn, can help you lose weight. A 2014 study found that individuals who meditate are less apt to have bouts of emotional or binge eating. In another study, individuals that meditated lost more weight (and kept it off) than their counterparts who didn’t take time to relax. Remember, a thought should always precede a bite of food. Train the mind to change what you eat.” — Dana James CDN, a nutritionist from Food Coach NYC
For more ways to trim your waistline, check out these 20 Weight Loss Tricks You Haven’t Tried.
Aim to Get Stronger, Not Slimmer
“Ladies, aim to increase the amount of weight you use in your workouts. I personally love weight lifting. It makes me feel strong and it can also slightly increase metabolism. Women are often afraid of heavy weights because they are fearful of becoming bulky. Not to worry, we women don’t have enough testosterone for that to happen. Instead, lifting heavy challenges the muscles to grow and become leaner and stronger, ultimately increasing their fat-burning power. Weekly weight-lifting sessions are key to promoting a healthy metabolism and blood glucose levels.” — Lauren Minchen MPH, RDN, CDN
Reward Yourself Right
“Make a resolution this new year to not use food as a reward. Often times I see my patients reward a weight loss by indulging in foods they know aren’t the best for their goals. Instead, I suggest using things like manicures, SoulCycle classes and workout gear as a reward for all their hard work. Using junk food will only contribute to weight gain and lead to unhealthy yo-yo dieting. Plus, showing off a new mani or gym tee is always fun!” — Leah Kaufman, MS, RD, CDN
Think Small & Specific
“Most new year’s resolutions fail because they were too broad or unrealistic. This year think smaller and more specific and you will be ten times more likely to reach your goal! For example, instead of saying ‘I will lose weight’ think of what the major challenge is for you to lose that weight. Is it late-night eating or ordering in food instead of cooking at home? If so, the resolution should be either ‘I will cook dinner at least four times per week’ or ‘I’ll stop eating at least three hours before bedtime unless I am hungrier than a five on a one to ten hunger scale.” — Lisa Moskovitz, RD, founder of The NY Nutrition Group
Simplify Your Nutrition Philosophy
“This year, focus on why you eat. When you simplify your nutrition philosophy to this statement ‘I eat to nourish my body so I will thrive’ you will be more motivated to create a nutrient-dense plate which naturally crowds out the junk. Use this motivation when making meal choices and you will choose more whole foods, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and other good-for-you real foods. This is also a great way to banish that dieting mentality for good and, instead, celebrate your plate and the food you eat!” — Katie Cavuto MS, RD, dietitian for the Philadelphia Phillies and Flyers
Meet Your Daily Veggie Quota
“My long-term resolution is to get five to six cups veggies (raw or cooked) daily for good health and energy. Yes, even dietitians can have days when they don’t meet their veggie quota! Increasing veggie intake not only boosts general health, it helps to prevent disease, too. Plus, veggies also make excellent hunger tamers. Deeply colored veggies naturally suppress appetite and increase fullness from their fiber and essential fatty acid content, making these nutritional gems something you should aim to include at every meal! — Lauren Minchen, MPH, RDN, CDN
Think Outside the Gym
“Instead of resolving to stick to a strict workout regimen each day, focus on how adding more activity into your daily routine. Even a 15-minute run or a few 10 minute walks scattered throughout the day can improve your health.” — Yasi Ansari, MS, RD
For more easy ways to boost your activity, check out these 19 Ways to Burn 100 Calories Without a Gym.
Eliminate the White Stuff
“Want to start losing weight immediately? Vow to rid your kitchen of the white stuff—white flour, pasta, and rice. Refined carbohydrates like these are basically empty calories and eating them too often can cause weight gain and even metabolic disorders. After you’ve cleaned out your kitchen, restock the shelves with whole grains. Unlike refined grains, whole grains deliver powerful nutrients and antioxidants that bolster immunity, help prevent cancer and heart disease and slow aging. Healthy selections include barley, oats, brown rice, polenta and my favorite, quinoa.” — Cheryl Forberg, RD, Biggest Loser dietitian and author of A Small Guide to Losing Big
Don’t Use Snacking as an Activity
“Snacks are not there to distract you from boredom, emotional upsets or because you want to momentarily check-out of life. They are there to keep your blood sugar levels stable when your meals have more than five hours between them. Select two raw snacks per day to ensure you’re getting the greatest density of phytonutrients, minerals and vitamins. Things like in-season fruits, seeds, nuts and fresh vegetable juices fit the bill.” — Dana James CDN, a nutritionist from Food Coach NYC
Sip More Before Meals
“Make it a daily ritual in the new year to drink more water, especially before each meal. A 2015 study displayed a greater amount of weight loss for participants who drank up to 16 ounces of water 30 minutes before a meal than those who didn’t drink any water before meals. Drinking water may help you feel fuller sooner, which may help you make better food choices and eat less.” — Kathy Siegel MS, RDN, CDN, a New York-based registered dietitian nutritionist and nutrition communication consultant
Can’t stand the taste of plain ol’ H2O? Whip up a refreshing batch of detox water instead!
Ditch Dietary Perfectionism
“Don’t think: ‘Well, I ate one piece of candy, so I may as well eat the entire package.’ This type of all-or-nothing mentality gets us in trouble when it comes to weight loss and maintenance. Almost nobody can eat healthy 100% of the time—and if they do, they may be suffering from disordered eating. Strive to eat right 80 to 90 percent of the time and allow yourself some limited dietary indulgences.” — Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND
Stop Buying Bottled Water
“Pledge to stop buying bottled water. Not only are plastic bottles wasteful, but they’re also laced with BPA, a chemical that’s been linked to obesity. Instead, buy a BPA-free reusable water bottle and bring it to the office every day. Aim to drink at about half of your body weight in ounces so you stay hydrated and ward off sweet cravings.” — Jennifer Cassetta, clinical nutritionist and personal trainer
Pump Up the Protein at Breakfast
“Start the new year with the resolution to eat breakfast with an added boost of protein. With cereals and pastries being popular morning options, breakfast tends to be the meal with the lowest amount of protein consumed. Studies have shown that adding protein at each meal, including breakfast, may help you stay fuller longer while preserving muscle mass and aiding weight management. Pump up the protein by incorporating things like nuts and seeds (which both make great additions to oatmeal), plain low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, natural peanut butter and eggs.” – Kathy Siegel MS, RDN, CDN, a New York-based registered dietitian nutritionist and nutrition communication consultant
“Stress is one of the biggest challenges to eating better. Not only does it make ice cream more appealing, but it also causes the body to produce more adrenaline and cortisol, a hormone that ups the odds you’ll create and store belly fat. That said, this year, make stress management a priority. Some people thrive on intense workouts while other people find that diving into some creative is more rejuvenating. Research shows creativity produces happy brain chemistry, and you needn’t be an award-winning artist to lose yourself in an artistic pursuit. Embracing your creativity can be as simple as singing in the shower, taking photos or coloring with your child. Find what works for you and stick to it to stay stress-free.” — Patricia Bannan, RD a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian
Ditch Liquid Calories
“This year, vow to eat your calories—instead of sipping them through a straw. One of the common behaviors of all ‘The Biggest Loser’ contestants I’ve counseled over the years is that they consumed a large portion of their daily calories from sugary soda, juice, cream-laden coffee and alcohol. Things like milk and homemade smoothies are okay to keep in your diet, but ditch the sippable junk!” — Cheryl Forberg, RD, Biggest Loser dietitian and author of A Small Guide to Losing Big
“Make it your mission in  to learn a new healthy recipe each week. Look for recipes made primarily with whole food products to ensure it’s a sound addition to your diet.” — Yasi Ansari, MS, RD
This article was originally published December 2015.