1. You’ve got an end goal but no game plan.
I can spot a bad diet resolution from a mile away. How? They all have one thing in common: They’re way too general. Not sure what I mean? Well, they usually start with a pretty basic phrase like “I’m going to lose weight this year!”
Instead, setting smaller, quantifiable goals to help you achieve a long-term goal establishes benchmarks for tracking progress, and ultimately keeping you on track. So if weight loss is your goal, pick one to three small goals to start—like eating breakfast every day or breaking a sweat three times a week.
Related: The Biggest Losers: Battle Of The Fad Diets
2. There’s always a catch when it’s “free.”
Gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, carb-free, meat-free… Have you ever noticed how diets always set rules for what you can’t do rather than what you can do? Frankly, if a diet or exercise plan seems like torture to you, it probably will be. And even if you lose weight initially, it’ll be tough to stick with that plan long-term.
Instead of saying things like “cut down,” “eliminate,” or “don’t eat,” switch it up with phrases like “Double-up on colorful fruits and veggies,” or “Have an ounce of chocolate for dessert tonight.” Sounds better, right?
3. Your plan is way too complicated.
Start small and keep it simple. Making big promises right off the bat is just setting yourself up for failure—and a throw-in-the-towel mentality. The same goes for exercise: You can’t run a marathon without doing a half marathon first.
If you’re new to cooking healthy recipes, pick two per week that you’re dying to try, buy the ingredients ahead of time, and make sure you’ve got all the tools you need on hand.
4. There’s no one holding you accountable.
If no one knows you’re trying to make healthier choices, it’s harder to stick with them. Luckily, your “person” can include your best friend, a cousin who lives across the country that you see twice a year, or even your personal journal (that no one ever reads!).
When people are held accountable to someone or something (e.g. a training schedule, diet apps, a friend, or registered dietitian), they tend to stay on track and make long-term changes that stick. Plus, research has shown that just the act of writing down what you’re eating while you’re eating it can help you lose weight.
Related: Just Hit Refresh
5. You’re your own harshest critic.
If your best friend called you crying because she was upset that she’d fallen off the wagon with her healthy eating plan, you would never call her a failure or tell her to give up, would you? Instead, you’d probably cheer her up by focusing on what she’s already accomplished and how proud you are of her success. So why not do the same thing for yourself?
The bottom line: Life is too short to spend it counting calories, choosing the healthiest thing on the menu, and worrying that you shouldn’t have eaten that vanilla cupcake. So if you overdo it, or lose track for a day, a week, or even a month, you’ve always got the chance to start over. (And everyone needs a cupcake once in awhile!)