Women's Health: 5 Healthy Resolutions for Women (cont.)

New Year's Resolution No. 1: Eat, but Don't Pig Out

When women resolve to lose weight, they are often black and white about it, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. She says women tend to want to cut out major food groups, telling themselves they cannot have any candy, dessert, or carbohydrates.

"It's a setup for failure, because by the time mid-January comes around, those resolutions are already in line for the next new year," says Taub-Dix. "It would be a much wiser decision to say, for example, 'I'm going to cut back on desserts.' Maybe pick a Saturday to have dessert." Instead of deprivation, practice moderation during the holidays.

The reduction approach is much more realistic than the all-or-nothing technique, which labels foods as "good" or "bad." When people see certain edibles as "bad," they can end up obsessing about it. Or they may see dieting as punishment for a year of unhealthy eating. Concentrate on getting adequate servings of whole grains, calcium, fiber, fruits and vegetables. This can be as easy as having a high-fiber cereal with milk and a banana.

Slashing entire food groups from the diet often backfires, because food is good and is one of the pleasures in life, says Taub-Dix. "There's no reason why we shouldn't enjoy food just because we're over the weight that we should be."

"Don't wait until the new year to have better eating habits, says Taub-Dix. "It should be a whole year's resolution, not a New Year's resolution."

New Year's Resolution No. 2: Jump Outside the Box

Many women who resolve to become more physically active think of going to the gym. They tend to hit the aerobic machines or join group exercise classes. They may get discouraged easily because they don't achieve desired weight loss or muscle tone in a certain time frame. They may quit because of lack of time, energy, or money. Or, they may tire of the gym atmosphere.

There are dozens of reasons why the best of workout intentions fall by the wayside come February. Yet they don't have to end up that way if you're willing to step outside of a certain mode of thinking -- that exercise has to be done a certain way, at a certain place, at a certain time, and for a certain amount of time.

"Sometimes people have this 'all or none' mentality and they're so gung-ho and so excited when they set the resolution that they judge themselves too harshly if they don't perfectly adhere to what they've established," says Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise.

He says many people make resolutions that are either unrealistic or too vague. A woman, for instance, may resolve to lose 10 pounds in two weeks. If she doesn't see desired results, she becomes discouraged and gives up.

It's better to set fitness goals that are realistic, achievable, and well defined. For example, a woman may strive to lose one to two pounds per week by exercising three to four times per week and holding off on seconds at the dinner table.