The past month has been full of holiday parties, spending time with loved ones, cookies (oh, the cookies!) and cocktails. Seasonal treats and temptations can make it difficult to maintain a healthy diet, and if you’re like the average American, you may have gained a pound or two by the time January 1 rolls around. Whether it be holiday weight gain or the promise of a fresh start, the New Year is a popular time to make (and break) health-related goals. Here are our tips for sticking to them:

  • Make your goals specific

“Eating healthier” can be too broad a goal and may quickly fall by the wayside. Instead, focus on small, attainable changes like filling half your plate with vegetables for lunch and dinner, cooking at home three nights per week instead of going out to dinner or ordering takeout and including protein and fiber in your breakfast every morning

  • Don’t deprive yourself

Drastically changing your eating habits overnight can leave you feeling deprived, hungry and cranky, which can be a recipe for overindulging later on. Focus on portion size when it comes to higher calorie foods you love, and treat them like treats – a once in a while enjoyment. For example, have one small dessert one or two nights per week or split an order of fries with a friend when you’re out to dinner.

  • Stay accountable

Make your goals known to friends and family to hold yourself accountable, and if possible, involve them in your new activities. Schedule workouts with a friend or take a healthy cooking class with a family member.

  • Be patient

if weight loss is your goal, it takes time! Making changes to your diet and keeping up a regular exercise routine are keys for successful weight loss, which should typically be about 0.5-2 pounds per week. Look at the big picture here and know the healthy habits you’re developing will not only help you feel better, but will eventually lead to weight loss. What’s more – people who lose weight gradually and steadily are more successful at keeping the weight off.

  • Start tracking

Keep a food journal for a few days to get an idea of your eating habits and areas in need of improvement. If this seems overwhelming or you don’t know where to start, make an appointment with a registered dietitian (RD) to help you develop a long-lasting and sustainable nutrition plan. Even better, join Rise to track your daily meal intake AND receive real-time feedback from a qualified RD to help you achieve your goals.

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Written by Kelly Hogan, MS, RD, CDN. Kelly is a Rise Coach and registered dietitian who lives in New York City. In addition to Rise coaching, Kelly is a clinical dietitian at an NYC hospital and has a passion for sports nutrition and weight management. Kelly loves running marathons, cooking delicious food and any kind of puppy. Want to work with Kelly or someone like her? Get started at www.rise.us/r/KELLYHOGAN.