5 Ways to Stay Strong When Your Resolutions Falter

UPDATED: January 5, 2024
PUBLISHED: January 23, 2017

Whether you crave a favorite food you’ve given up, can’t go to the gym as often as planned, or feel sapped of energy because you’ve fallen off your “New Year, New You” diet and exercise plan, don’t despair.

Related: Top of Mind: 6 Ways to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions All Year Long

Rebecca Scritchfield, registered dietitian nutritionist, author of Body Kindness, shares her tips for putting those failed food and fitness resolutions in perspective and getting back on a sane and sensible track for the new year and beyond.

1. Call a truce with yourself.

“If you know your New Year’s resolutions were extreme or unsustainable, it’s OK,” Scritchfield says. Instead of feeling guilty or trying to make up for past mistakes, she suggests revamping resolutions to be more realistic and achievable.

“A workable goal is based on an action you can take that is realistic and that you have control over.”

2. Track your accomplishments.

According to Scritchfield, people rarely give themselves credit for the things they already do well. “Even maintaining small habits, like walking a few extra blocks here and there, drinking more water, and eating fruits and vegetables at most meals, proves you have what it takes to create new ones,” she says. To stay motivated and achieve your health goals, she recommends quantifying all of the choices you make in a typical day that help you feel strong and energized. “Using an app or simply writing down your daily habits can remind you of all the positive things you’re already doing.”

Related: 4 New Year’s Resolutions You Should Make (and Keep) to Guarantee Your Success

3. Set workable goals.

Scritchfield says, “A workable goal is based on an action you can take that is realistic and that you have control over.” For example, instead of vowing never to have pizza or eat sugar again, Scritchfield suggests setting a positive goal such as planning and preparing three nutrient-rich meals each week.

4. Ignore unhelpful thoughts.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when setting goals is overthinking them. “It’s not helpful and only sucks away valuable mental energy,” Scritchfield says. Instead of thinking, I’m so stressed and need candy to get through this, or A 10-minute workout is useless, so I should skip it, she suggests calling out the unhelpful thought and quickly taking action on the more beneficial choice.

5. Be less like a ruler and more like a rubber band.

“Structure is great when it keeps you on track, but life doesn’t always go as planned,” Scritchfield says. “When inevitable snafus arise, your ‘ruler’ mind might say ‘screw it.’ ” Instead of replacing your daily food, fitness or sleep goal with a self-sabotaging decision, she recommends thinking through options and being flexible.

For example, if you don’t have time to exercise, Scritchfield suggests running errands on foot or using a seven-minute workout app while cooking dinner. “Or when craving sweets at work, instead of running to the break room for a nutrient-poor snack, plan to buy your favorite cupcake from the bakery over the weekend when you actually have time to enjoy it.”

Related: 7 Healthy Resolutions You Should Make

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

Elisa Zied

Elisa Zied is an award-winning New York State certified dietitian nutritionist and the author of Younger Next Week (Harlequin Nonfiction) and three other consumer titles. A past spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, she received a bachelor's in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and a master's in clinical nutrition from New York University. For more than two decades, she has garnered millions of media impressions through her TV appearances, articles and blogs. Having recently discovered her passion for reading and writing fiction, she is currently working on her first novel. She lives in New York City with her husband of 24 years and her two sons. When she’s not reading, she enjoys long walks and hikes, hula hooping, seeing Broadway shows and movies, attending book signings and festivals, and interviewing her favorite authors for her Food, Fitness & Fiction blog.