Almost half of Americans are planning to make a New Year’s Resolution for 2014. And, if you are among those planning to commit to a change, your resolution is probably related to improving your health in some way. Among the top resolutions on people’s lists are to lose weight, exercise more, and eat healthier. While it is all fine and dandy to have good intentions, the New York Times reports that four out of five resolutions will not last through 2014, and a third don’t even make it past January.
This year, let’s make it stick. Start by writing your resolution down, and asking yourself these questions: is this realistic? What kind of support do I have? Where are the loopholes? (Admit it, you’ll probably be tempted to goof just a little…one piece of cake on your birthday, sleeping in on the weekends…) The more specific you are, with a “one-step-at-a-time” strategy, the more likely you are to realize success.
- KEEP IT REAL. Establishing acceptable boundaries or grey areas rather than laws written in stone will help you to live with your goal, rather than fighting against it or giving up altogether. Don’t plan to lose 100 pounds; do resolve to attain a healthy BMI. Don’t force yourself to spend an hour at the gym every day; do resolve to spend at least an hour a day doing some kind of moderate activity. No one is perfect, so don’t start the year off expecting perfection. DO make resolutions that you can live with, that you can envision yourself attaining, and that will become a part of your life in 2014 and beyond.
- ASK FOR HELP. The American Psychological Association reports the people who successfully make changes in their lifestyles didn’t do it alone. They had help. Take stock of your support system – who can you depend on to inspire you toward achieving your goal? Consider the possibility of multiple sources of support: your spouse, a friend, a co-worker; or you can enlist the expertise of a personal trainer, nutritional counselor or life coach. Spiritual practice can help you become more self-aware and self-reliant; integrating meditation and prayer into your day will give you a chance to check in with your decision making and will remind you to stay centered in your actions. Journaling is another way of reflecting on your goals and how you are perceiving and defining success.
- PLAN AHEAD. Realizing long-term goals takes some planning ahead. Maybe you’ve resolved to eat healthier in 2014, but what does that mean? Limiting empty calories? Avoiding gluten? Eating more veggies? Be as specific as you can while keeping the big picture in mind. Have a “contingency plan” in case of birthdays (just one piece of cake), holidays (when the gym is closed), and in-laws (when all your best-laid plans go out the window). Work in baby steps, but measure progress by the weeks and months rather than by the minute. “Today was not so great, but I can do better tomorrow.” Allow yourself some off days, and reward yourself for “on” days.
Eventually, your resolution for 2014 will become second-nature, a new facet of your lifestyle and your long-term, overall well being! Happy New Year and Here’s to Your Health in 2014!