Best: The day you feel ready
Being prepped to make a life change—like knowing 15 ways to change eating habits in a day—will help you get started. But being confident that you know the exact day may be more of a gut feeling: Often the most successful dieters start because of a wakeup call, says Amy Stephens, MS, RD, a registered dietitian in New York City. Maybe you went to the doctor and he told you that you’d have to go on medication unless you did something to get your cholesterol down, or a family member has a heart-to-heart with you about your health, or a friend gets sick. “When these things happen you set a goal that’s more emotional rather than weight-based, and that’s often more successful,” explains Stephens. “If things get rough along the way, you can remind yourself why you’re on this journey,” she says.
Best: After your birthday
Experts dub this “the fresh start effect.” In a study from the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found that people were more likely to act on their health goals after landmark dates, including holidays and birthdays. When you’re thinking about how to start a diet, this is an ideal time. They explain that after a milestone, you’re less likely to dwell on past mistakes, making it easier to perform behaviors more in line with “the new you.” It also helps you think in big-picture ways, which can drive you toward your goals. You’ve got this!