A New Year: Three Simple and Attainable Goals



Jennifer McGovern, R.D.


Jennifer getting ready for a workout, with kitchen utensil gym “bag”

I usually don’t like to make New Years Resolutions.  I always start with the best intentions, but after months or even weeks, they are forgotten, discarded as unattainable and unimportant as the reality of daily life wages on.  It’s a circle of failure that starts every New Year.  Thankfully, I usually keep the resolutions to myself, so no one is even aware of my failures.  Not this time.  This time I’m doing it different.  This time I’m making it public.

Resolutions are simply goals, aren’t they?  I know all about goals.  As a dietitian, I used to help clients set goals all the time.  This is what I used to tell clients:

  1. Keep it simple.  Make goals that are realistic and attainable.  “Lose 50 pounds” may sound good, but why not start with a smaller goal that can be reached faster, then readjust the goal after achieving it.
  2. Have an action plan, and be as specific as possible.  Are you going to work out more?  When?  With whom?  Are you going to eat healthier?  How?
  3. Make it positive, not negative.  Don’t GIVE UP something, TAKE UP something.  In other words, instead of “I can’t eat out,” say “I will pack a lunch everyday.”
  4. Reward yourself.  When you reach a goal, celebrate!  It doesn’t have to be food, or even cost money.  Take a hot bath while your husband cooks dinner (you may want to run this by him first), watch a movie with a friend you don’t see often enough, upload a new upbeat song for your workout.
  5. Be accountable.  This is where I flub up.  I’m too independent, but it is easier to get to the gym when you have someone that reminds you when you aren’t there, and celebrates when you show up.
  6. Make it fun.  Experts say it takes 21 days to make something habitual.  That’s a myth.  The truth is, you aren’t going to do something consistently if it’s not something you enjoy.  Sure, try something new.  If you don’t like it, try something else.


It’s time I started heeding my own advice.  So, here goes.  This is where accountability comes in.  I’m stating my resolutions on the world wide web.  Hold me accountable.  Join me on  my journey, and let’s have some fun together!


Here are my resolutions:

Eat more plants.

I don’t do fad diets.  I do read about them, though.  I subscribe to Michael Pollan’s mantra from one of my favorite books, In Defense of Food: “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  So simple.

How?  (this is the action plan) I’m going to try at least one vegetarian meal each week.  I’m jumping on the Meatless Monday bandwagon.  My challenge will be to find a vegetarian meal or snack that my pickiest child, a self-proclaimed “meatatarian,” will enjoy. After my weekly vegetarian fare,  I will  ind one meal he likes every month, I will post the recipe here!  It’s a promise.  Hold me to it. My son has got to like at least one meal per month, right?  We shall see….


Stay in shape.

Yes, I know a circle is a shape, but I’d rather be a rectangle.  I don’t have a weight goal.  I despise numbers.  I go by how I feel.  And ask myself: How do my clothes fit?  How’s my energy level?  I won’t let a number on a scale dictate how I feel.

How?  I joined a gym thanks to my good friend Kim Sunée!  Nothing like paying money to get me motivated to use what I pay for!  We have a schedule worked out and we will stick to it. Even if our schedules conflict and we have to work out separately, we keep in close contact about what we did so we can celebrate together.

As I’ve stated, I’m not into numbers.  I don’t weigh myself or count calories burned during a workout.  This is how I tell if I’ve worked out hard enough: if I’m uglier coming out of the gym than going  into the gym, I’ve had a great workout.  If not, I need to get back on the treadmill.  This is subjective of course, as I don’t get all gussied up for my workout, but it makes me feel good as I leave red-faced and sweaty.


Break out of my comfort zone.

This has nothing to do with physical health, but more of an emotional and spiritual health.  I want to talk to people I wouldn’t normally talk to.  I want to learn something about them.  I’ve volunteered at a soup kitchen for 5 years, and only know a handful of client names.  I don’t know if they have children, or if they graduated from high school, or if they like cauliflower.  Trivial? Perhaps, but how often does someone take time to ask them anything?   I look into their eyes and see so much more than someone asking for a handout.  I see a child of God, just like me.

How?  I’m going to start a blog.  It will be a food blog centered around the soup kitchen where I volunteer.  I’m going to ask questions and tell stories of people who work there, volunteer there, and receive food there. I’ll cook for them, and post the recipes of their favorite foods.  I’ll post once per week.  Hopefully I’ll be dishing out more than recipes; I’ll be serving compassion and understanding as well.

So, that’s it?  That’s all?  Only 3?  Yes.  That’s all.  Too many and I get confused.  Sure, I’d love to get more organized and save some money and travel to exotic places, but I’ve realized that I can’t do it all. This time,  I’m going to set myself up for success.  If I can do these three things and do them well, I will celebrate with different resolutions next year.  I might also celebrate with a nice long bath…in Hawaii.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a guest feature by Jennifer McGovern. I hope her story inspires you as much as it does me to sweat more, eat better, and break out of my comfort zone.


Spicy Black Bean Hummus

Indian-Spiced Roasted Chick Peas with Maple Glaze



2 comments... read them below or add one


  1. January 12, 2013 1:20 pm by Megan @ Allergy Free Alaska Reply

    Jennifer, you are rockin’ that utensil bag!! What a great post… I’m so guilty of setting myself up for failure; I tend to set goals I’ll never achieve (and I even secretly know I won’t achieve them). This year I decided I would walk on the treadmill. It doesn’t seem like much, but for my body it’s enough, and I figured that doing something and starting small is better than nothing at all!

    I can’t wait to start reading your blog! What a great idea. You will touch many with your stories, I’m sure!

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