What else did this New Year bring than yet another excuse to start eating healthy and working out? Losing weight was the number one New Year’s resolution of 2014 for Americans. This year like every other, January was a month filled with magazines promoting crazed diet trends, gyms packed with unfamiliar faces hogging all of the machines and a palpable feeling of motivation to finally follow through this time around clinging to the freezing cold air. But how many people will actually be able to stick to their waning resolutions in the middle of this frigid polar vortex?

While a new year brings the excitement and promise of self-improvement, habits don’t change overnight. The initial motivation of the New Year may be encouraging enough to get you to put on your sneakers and resist that bag of Doritos or the temptation of dessert, but rather than allowing the New Year to serve as an excuse for finally and immediately getting into shape, a healthy routine is more likely to stick if it’s built up to gradually.

The initial motivation of a New Years diet can burn out pretty quickly if there is no real commitment to a lifestyle change behind it. Instead of beating yourself up when you don’t make it to the gym every single day of January or cutting carbs out of your diet cold-turkey, take the New Year for what it is — an entire year for potential self-improvement.  That means a slow, gradual transition into a healthy routine that will actually stick. Allow yourself some cheat days; don’t make too many unrealistic rules; give yourself a break. Transitioning into a healthier lifestyle is difficult, but when it’s done slowly and carefully, it’s worth the long-term results.

This New Year is far from over. If you haven’t reached your goal weight by the end of this month, or even the next two or three, don’t get discouraged. Keep in mind that long-term results are more likely to stick when healthy eating is built up to in moderation rather than by jumping on the newest diet-trend of the month, and have faith in your own ability to improve.