How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? Hopefully, you are still on track to meet your goals. If not, you are in good company. Research suggests that by this time well over half of people who made New Year’s resolutions have either lost momentum or given up altogether and that only 8% will achieve their goal.
There are a host of reasons for this. Some of the most common resolutions—quitting smoking, losing weight, and getting in shape—are also some of the most difficult behaviors to change because they require making significant lifestyle modifications. To make things worse, many people set unrealistic goals or try to take on too much at once.
Many people who fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions this year will recycle them next year and try again. In fact, most people who manage to successfully quit smoking or lose weight have tried many times in the past. Sometimes experience, even a bad experience, is the best way to learn what does and doesn’t work.
But there is no need to wait until January 1 to try again. It turns out that now is a perfect time to restart your stalled New Year’s resolution or finally get around to doing what you planned months ago. Labor Day marks the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year, so it is a natural time to set goals and make changes. This is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week.
Since setting a date to begin a behavior change is critical step in the process, why not give yourself a second chance on your New Year’s resolutions today?
Here is some advice to help restart (or start!) your New Year’s resolutions successfully.
Be realistic. Many people fail to keep their resolutions simply because they don’t set realistic goals or aren’t honest with themselves about what it will take to meet those goals. For example, running a marathon is an ambitious goal for almost everyone, especially someone who doesn’t exercise at all. A resolution to work up to jogging five days per week, with a goal of completing a 5k run is more realistic and achievable.
Focus on learning. Making most health behavior changes involves learning as much as doing. Something as simple as eating healthier meals requires learning about the nutrients that make some foods better than others, learning to read food labels to select healthy foods, and learning how to cook and prepare healthy meals. If your resolution is to learn about healthy meals, you will be able to achieve that goal and be well on your way to eating a healthier diet.
Manage your time. Most health improvement projects require taking time to learn about, implement, and maintain those healthy behaviors. If you resolve to manage your time to include exercise or meal preparation in your daily schedule you will be much more likely to meet your goals. Trying to add these new activities as “extras” to your already busy day will inevitably lead to them getting squeezed out.
Plan ahead. Most people already know that changing health behaviors can be challenging, even under the best circumstances. It’s no wonder that holidays, travel, and other life events can complicate or even derail an otherwise successful diet or exercise program. Make it your resolution to think about what you can do before, during, and after these (and other) disruptions occur to keep yourself on track.
Hopefully these steps will help you keep your resolutions, achieve your goals, and make this a happy, healthy year. As a bonus, you can take January 1 off!
Nutrition, exercise, and health information can be confusing. But it doesn't have to be that way. What can I help you with? firstname.lastname@example.org | http://twitter.com/drbrianparr