By Lindsey Joe, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

So, you've made some healthy resolutions this year. (Remember our SMART goals?)

It's OK if you've had a shaky start following through on those commitments. Change is not easy. But the most important part of making long-lasting change is to not throw in the towel. Try to use tough times as learning experiences that help you grow and become more resilient at overcoming obstacles.

How are you doing with your goals? Be honest with yourself. Part of the process of setting and achieving goals is bringing attention to what's going well and what's not.

If you answered, “Not so great,” don’t lose heart! Let's focus on what we can do when things go wrong.

Downtown Problem-Solving Worksheet

Of course, challenges will always arise. Life happens. But in order to lessen a blow life gives us, we need to proactively solve the problems that get in the way of achieving our goals. After all, the ways in which we react to hard situations are habits, too.

Let's work through an example together using the SMART goal I made last month to: "eat one fruit or vegetable at breakfast four days a week for two weeks." Download your own Problem-Solving Worksheet to follow along. We will use five steps to help solve problems and achieve healthy living goals. 

1. Describe the problem in detail.

What led up to the problem? Were there thoughts or feelings that also got in your way?

Example: I buy fresh fruit each week when I go grocery shopping. I'm in such a rush in the morning I forget to grab fruit with my breakfast. When the end of the week rolls around, my fresh fruit has gone bad. I end up wasting food and falling behind on my goal.

2. Brainstorm your options.

List all the possibilities, even the seemingly unrealistic ones.

Example: I less fresh fruit. Buy more canned or frozen fruit. Wake up earlier. Pack my breakfast the night before. Make my breakfast ahead of time. Not eat fruit.

3. Pick one option to try.

Choose an option that you are likely to do and is likely to work for you.

Example: I am willing to pack my breakfast the night before to include fruit and/or vegetables.

4. Make a positive action plan.

What will you do when problems arise? When will you do this? Is there something else you can do to make your success more likely?

Example: I will pack my breakfast the night before after cleaning up dinner. I will also set an alarm on my cell phone to remind me in case I forget.

5. Test your plan.

Did your solution help or hurt you? Problem solve again if necessary. Let's do this!

I hope you try these 5 problem-solving steps to help you overcome your obstacles when it comes to healthier living. You might surprise yourself with how capable and resilient you really are. 

Establish Healthy Habits with the Y

Ready for a healthier eating approach? Get more information on YMCA memberships and health and fitness programs at your local YMCA fitness center near you.