Let’s face it. We all have great intentions when making our New Year’s resolutions…but how many of us even stick with them through February? Maybe it’s just that we’re overdoing them—as someone who’s kept off 70 pounds for 30 years (after yo-yo-dieting with only frustration to show for it), I am confident that resolving to eat bland food or spend hours in the gym are not the way to go. If you’re struggling, it’s time to drop old notions and try some of these somewhat surprising strategies that have actually worked for me and many of my clients.

1. Commit to cooking for yourself/bringing lunch to work every day – As a chef who’s not only had restaurants, but consulted for numerous restaurants, trust me when I tell you that you are NOT doing your body a service by eating out all the time. Many restaurant meals are loaded with calories. Even if you want to eat healthy, it’s harder when eating out.

2. Create Promises – Instead of making the same empty promises to yourself, make a list of practical goals that you can realistically accomplish, like cooking a certain amount of meals for yourself per week from scratch, or learning a new recipe every week. Then, assign a consequence if you don’t do it! Post it on the wall to add accountability.

3. Plan for Cravings – Everyone has cravings. And that’s okay if you’re prepared. If you love chocolate pudding or pumpkin pie or French fries or pizza, there are PLENTY of ways to eat those foods, smarter. But do the legwork now, not in the middle of the night when all you can think about is chocolate ice cream, or after a long day when you’re dying for that burger! Hunt down recipes for the exact food you’re craving, looking for those that have great ratings or that your friends tell you actually taste great. While some cookbooks have great recipes, not all do. And some provide such tiny portion sizes, I want to laugh. Make sure you find one that works for you! To start, feel free to check out my upcoming book, “You Can Have It!” The book contains more than 125 recipes for popular, commonly-craved foods that my friends, family and I swear by when our cravings hit.

4. Don’t skip breakfast – I know it’s tempting. I did it for years because I was always hungry at night so I thought I should “save my calories” by skipping breakfast. It doesn’t work that way! By not eating for hours on end, your body goes into starvation mode and messes with your metabolism. Even if you’re not hungry in the morning, have something small to start your “engine,” so to speak. If you’re having trouble finding time for breakfast, consider getting a blender with a to-go cup attachment. You can make a healthy smoothie in minutes before you run out the door.

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