A little over two weeks after New Year's Day when countless Australians pledge to revolutionise their lives, we passed National Give Up Your Resolution Day (17th January). There is an abundance of research and articles on this phenomenon of goals being made and then not achieved on a yearly cycle. This is because there are several tricks and hacks to set and achieve a goal successfully.

In my work as a nutritionist, January is as busy as the gyms across the country capitalising on the New Year's resolution rush. Most of the people who come to see me because sugar free or no alcohol January sounds like a funky idea but in reality, it is not as simple as saying “make it so”.


TURNING THINGS AROUND? Setting sustainable goals is key to finding a healthier lifestyle, says Bridie Kersten. PICTURE: SMART/Unsplash


"Sustainable goal setting can change the way that you view having a healthy lifestyle and can help you set new and healthier habits."

To combat the negative statistics and attention on resolutions, I use a goal setting process, along with individualised nutritional intervention to support people wanting to be a better version of themselves. The first part is drawing out and exploring what the driving force/motivation is behind their desire to change. Often, they have not explored this before and surprise themselves with why they actually want to adjust their dietary choices or lifestyle. Wanting to quit sugar because all your friends are doing it is not usually enough motivation to set up a successful goal, however, wanting to quit sugar because you have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic is a powerful motivator.

Talking about your motivation for change leads to a conversation about what outcomes you want and expect and this is where we discover what goal is going to best meet the needs of these outcomes. For example, preventing diabetes is less about quitting sugar and more about educating yourself on the sugar content of foods and making sure that you stay within your daily limits. So already, the goal has been stripped back to the basics.

There are several other steps you can take when setting a goal but from here, I encourage clients to decide what their response to any obstacles might be. What will they do if there is cake at the office, lollies in the pantry or ice cream on a hot day?

For all of us, there comes a time or a circumstance where we are tempted by things that may not line up with a goals. And this is OK. You might be at a party and want to eat some of the unhealthy food. You can choose not to eat it or you can choose to eat it, either way, you have to make sure that only you made that decision and you have to own that decision. Setting up this dialogue means that either way, you have not connected anything negative with the food, the experience or your goal you are working towards. Empowering!

The last thing that I work through with my clients is a review. Some people can review their goals on their own quite well, others need to talk it through with someone – it depends on the individual needs of the person. This is the point where you decide if your action plan and goals are working for you and achievable for you.

Sustainable goal setting can change the way that you view having a healthy lifestyle and can help you set new and healthier habits. Give these goal setting tricks and hacks a go and see if it makes a difference with the way that you choose to eat and live.

Remember, the only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.

With credit to the creators of the SMART goals program.

Bridie Kersten is a registered nutritionist with an advanced diploma in nutrition and a Bachelor of Health Science (biochemistry and nutritional medicine). This information is of a general nature only and may not be suitable for you; please seek your healthcare professional's advice before making alterations to your diet.