Set realistic expectations for your health goals in the new year—it’ll bolster your likelihood of success. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

It’s that time of year again. The time when people start talking about getting on track for the new year.

While some might turn their nose up at it—maybe they had some bad experiences with making resolutions—many of us love the idea of a fresh start.

Here are some tips to help make your nutrition goals a reality, whether you believe in resolutions or not.

Start with why

Often, people jump into programs and make big changes when they get fed up with certain habits. Or maybe they’re feeling inspired after hearing about the positive experiences of others.

While these are good considerations, people often lose motivation quickly because they haven’t identified their real “why” for making changes.

Take time to really think about why it is important to you to make healthy changes—and then review this often, especially when you feel like throwing in the towel.

Make realistic changes

Another error people often make is taking on too much at one time. Going from frequent eating out to cooking meals from scratch at home is a big jump. Or completely cutting out a certain type of food.

Find a goal that challenges you, yet makes you feel confident you can achieve it in the long run.

Ditch all-or-nothing thinking

This is a tough one for many personality types—finding a middle ground.

Setting an exercise goal often ends in absolutes. Every day or no days. Eating no sweets or binging on sweets. Tracking everything you eat or tracking nothing at all.

We set ourselves up for failure with all-or-nothing thinking. It’s OK to make changes gradually. It may take a little longer to see the results, but they will last. Most people who have successfully made and kept big lifestyle shifts used this approach.

Recruit friends and family

Everything is better when you do it together. Find a friend, coworker or family member who is in a similar place of wanting to make positive changes.

They might have different nutrition goals, but having someone to encourage you and be accountable with can help support your journey.

Ask for help

It can often feel overwhelming to find a good starting point for making healthy eating changes. There is also a lot of conflicting information available online.

Look for a registered dietitian nutritionist—the nutrition experts—to help get you started. They can help guide you individually or lead you to great programs.