The majority of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions within the first three months of the year. What’s the difference between those who succeed and those who quit? Realizing it’s about lifestyle change. If the changes aren’t permanent, the weight is going to come back. Jonathan Haynes, MD (San Diego’s medical mind behind the One Life Diet) offers the following five successful tips to help you make 2011 the year you keep your resolution:

 

Set weekly and monthly goals along the way.

Create smaller, attainable targets along the way to your ultimate goal. If your ultimate goal is a long way off, it’s easy to lose focus and to give into cheating. Mini-goals with a shorter time frame make the choices that you make on a day-to-day basis much more important. Plus there’s no better motivator than success, so reward yourself every time you reach your mini-goals.

 

Make the easy changes first.

Cut out fast food and non-diet sodas. Decrease alcohol and nut consumption. Keep a supply of healthy snacks at work. Cook at home and bring your lunch: Going out for a sit-down lunch rings up an average of 184 more calories than brown-bagging it. That number climbs to 227 if you chow on fast food. What’s worse, you probably have no clue how fatty your entree really is: According to recent data from the University of Arkansas, the average diner underestimates each meal by up to 600 calories. Cook at home just three days a week and you could lose a pound a week.

 

Educate yourself and plan it out. 

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to weight loss. Not knowing the calorie count of what you are eating will screw you every time. You have to learn to check the nutrition labels on the foods you are buying and check out the calorie counts on the restaurant’s web site before you go out to eat. You’ll be amazed at how many calories are in some of the “healthy” entrees. Making a resolution without a plan is a sure-fire way to fail. Examine your eating habits to determine your areas of weakness. And then make a plan for how you plan to deal with those obstacles. For example, if you always end up eating fast food on the nights that you work late, resolve to stock your fridge with some frozen entrees or precooked grilled chicken and bagged salad fixings for a simple but calorie controlled dinner. 

 

Believe and get support. 

If you start off half-hearted you will crumple at the first road-block. But if you know that you are going to stick to your resolutions “no matter what” your chances of success skyrocket. Then surround yourself with allies! The more people that are on your team supporting you the higher your chances of success. Rather than demotivating you with offers of going out for beer and pizza they can become your support network and help keep your motivation strong.

 

Commit, but prepare for the inevitable screw-up.  

If you go in with the mind set that you are going to reach your goal no matter how many times you may blow it you will eventually succeed. Don’t allow yourself to give up. You will blow it at some point, it’s nearly inevitable. But every time you fail, you get more insight about what to do differently next time. Remember it is through persistence and not perfection that we reach our goals. Avoid the “all or nothing” — people with a flexible approach to eating, one that allows for mistakes, are far more successful in the long run than those who live by the “all or nothing” mindset.