We all know that January is the time for setting personal goals. How often do these goals incorporate fitness or overall health and well-being? According to Time magazine, “Get Fit/ Lose Weight” resolutions are the number one most common resolution to be made, but also the number one resolution to be broken throughout the year!  Everyone see’s the value in good health, but we let things get in the way of reaching and maintaining our ideal weight and optimal health.  So here’s a few tips to help you stay on track, reach your personal fitness goals and maintain your desired fitness level.

Stress, hurried mealtimes, poor planning and mindless snacking can all contribute to not achieving your goals for more healthy eating habits. As you work to improve yourself and your well being throughout the coming year, there are a few things that may make all of the difference when it comes to making healthy choices.

It is pretty common knowledge that making smart food choices can change your life for the better. These changes run across a whole spectrum of things including: reaching your weight goals, increasing your energy, lifting your spirits and improving your health. So knowing all of that, why don’t we make “smart” choices all of the time? Judging from personal experience and past conversations, I think it’s safe to say that there are a few common reasons.

Stress: When there are stressful situations happening in our lives, watching what we put into our bodies may not be of top priority. In fact, it has been shown that in times of stress, our bodies tend to crave the unhealthy, fattening foods that we typically try to avoid because it provides a quick source of fuel to help us power through and overcome challenges.

Hurrying: I can’t tell you how many times a hurried moment has led me grab a quick, go-to, unhealthy snack when, given more time, I would never choose that option. This is likely why vending machines are as ubiquitous as they are. Quick snacks are great in a pinch and when you’re hungry and rushed, convenient is much more appealing than nutritious.

Poor planning: This one ties right into the last point, but when you haven’t planned ahead for your meals, it is so much easier to lose track of what you’re consuming. You’ll go for what’s easy, quick and readily available which may or may not be what is best for you.

Mindless snacking: Everyone loves grazing, but when the options you have available for yourself are unhealthy ones, snacking habits can quickly work to sabotage your otherwise healthy lifestyle.

So how do we address these catches and make our lifestyles suit our healthy living goals? The four points above are all related in a way. They crop up when we allow the hectic nature of our lives to override our best intentions.  So what can you do?

Reduce your stressors: There will always be stress in life, but some might be at least partially avoidable. The mood of your morning can set the tone for your whole day. So if you find yourself in a constant rush from the time your last “snooze” alarm yells at you to the second you walk out of the door, make some changes! Try to wake up just a little earlier, give yourself some time to prepare in an unhurried way and to clear your mind before you start your day. Most importantly, the extra time will allow you to squeeze in the crucial breakfast, something that so many people tend to skip.  Filling up before you head out for your day will propel your choices for the day in the right direction.

Reduce the hurry:  Make time for your healthy choices. When you’re in a rush, the clock speaks louder than your better judgment. While oftentimes, there is no way to slow down the pace that so many of us keep, taking just a couple of extra minutes each day to prepare for your meals is critical to your healthy eating success throughout the day. If you find yourself tripping out of the door without a lunch most days, make it for yourself the night before. If your mornings are consumed with getting the rest of your family ready for their days while you skip your own breakfast, give yourself ten extra minutes to eat something that will stave off your hunger for the rest of the morning—you’ll thank yourself later.

Plan ahead: Make a plan. If you find yourself stumbling for healthy ideas, make a list! Separate it into breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and jot down some healthful standbys. The purpose of your list will be two-fold as it can serve as a shopping list as well.

Stock up on good choices: When you’re reaching for things like whole grains, proteins, fruits and vegetables instead of starchy, salty, fatty treats, even when your grazing and snacking habits take over, you will still be promoting your health goals. Refill your cabinets, your refrigerator, your desk drawer—wherever it is that you reach when the urge to snack hits you, make it impossible to call on something counterproductive.

Overall, what sabotages our healthy living goals are often right at our fingertips. They’re products of the pace that we keep and the hectic nature of our lives, but with a little planning and some extra organization, you can make good choices throughout the whole day that will set you up for ultimate healthful eating success.