Breaking down your New Year’s weight loss resolutions into small, manageable tasks you can work on every day is the best road to success.

“Instead of making the number on the scale the focus, look for other ways to find to measure success,” said Stefanie C. Barthmare, a psychotherapist with the Methodist Weight Management Center in Houston. “I worked with a patient recently who said that when she lost 60 pounds she was going to sign up for a half-marathon. She signed up last June and is running the full 13 miles in January.”

Barthmare said once you set a goal, it’s important to have a vision for what it will look like. That might be a certain smaller size of pants you will be able to wear, or participating in a specific activity that you physically could not take part in when you were overweight. After the goal is set, break it down and begin rid of foods that are bad for you a little at a time.

“Literally, start by cutting down your intake of soda from three a day to one for the first week, and the next week maybe eliminate cheese from your sandwiches,” Barthmare said. “It’s also important to realize that depriving yourself never works. By refraining from one behavior that you know is potentially causing weight gain, you will begin to accumulate small successes. These positive actions and resulting good feelings give you the momentum to keep going and eventually reach the goal you set for yourself.”

After the New Year, many people will throw out all the snacks in the refrigerator and begin to restrict themselves. While this might work for a few days or weeks, it’s not a good long term plan, she said. After a couple of weeks when your brain informs you that you are “restricting” yourself, chances are high that you will revert back to the destructive behavior and end up gaining even more weight.

“When you don’t come up with a plan to lose weight and the process is torture, you are setting yourself up for failure,” Barthmare said. “Doing it a little at a time will keep you from being overwhelmed, and keep you on track for keeping the pounds off and keeping your New Year’s resolution.”