Did you know dietitians who do counseling, particularly weight loss counseling, have the slowest season between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Makes sense, right? Who wants to go see someone who’s going to tell you you need to eat less and better when there’s so much good food around?
Their busiest season starts right at the New Year. New plans, the desire to make changes, people wanting to shift their lives– or at least their waistlines, making new resolutions. They seek the help of a professional, a Registered Dietitian– hopefully!
Not everyone sees a dietitian, and that is totally fine! But most people do make New Year’s Resolutions. And many of them include goals for food, weight loss, and exercise. I have seen so many people with great goals who can’t make it out of the starting gate. Or make it out of the starting gate but never round the bend.
I chalk this failure to meet goals up to unrealistic goals and expectations.
I see it all the time. A patient who has just had open heart surgery and sees their new life ahead of them now. When I talk to them about their diet goals and changes they tell me they’ll never eat red meat again. They’ll never go to another fast food restaurant. They’ll do it all right. [Of course I see the other extreme, too, but that’s another story for another day.] Doing these things, in theory, would make a difference, but no one can do them. Just like the newly diagnosed diabetic who says they’ll never drink sweet tea again. That would help their blood sugar, but they’ve grown up in the south– sweet tea’s in their blood. They can’t just drop it like that. It’s so unrealistic to be so extreme.
So the thing I always focus on with patients and clients is making realistic goals. When I was a dietetic intern one of my mentors was so focused on this point, and now I get it. It is so important. Realistic goals lead to real change which gives real results. Goals that are challenging but obtainable are the best. So I encourage you, as this new year approaches, to really take time to think about your goals and make them fit you. I can promise you that I will be doing the same thing.