It’s that time of year again when the chill in the air, the smell of fresh pine, and the sounds of “Auld Lang Syne” remind us of the promise of a new and better year to come. Like many people, you’ve probably made a New Year’s resolution or two in the past. And like most, you’ve possibly felt discouraged at keeping these resolutions and have given up. Did you know that each year approximately 45% of American adults make at least one resolution? Sadly enough, nearly 25% of those resolutions fail within the first week, and almost half of the resolutions have been dropped after six months.
Whether you’ve vowed to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, quit smoking, reduce stress, or any other goal, there are ways to overcome the frustrations of sticking with your resolutions and to help you become a healthier YOU!
Follow these tips for sticking with your New Year’s resolutions:
1. Set Realistic Goals
It’s easy for us to fall into resolution pitfall by setting unreachable goals. Telling yourself you’ll lose 75 pounds before your Hawaiian vacation in May is not as realistic as telling yourself that you want to strive for a healthy weight loss of one to two pounds per week. Setting goals that are specific and realistic means that you are able to make lifestyle changes in a more achievable and sustainable manner.
- “I will walk for at least 30 minutes per day, at least 5 days per week”
- “I add at least one extra serving of dark leafy greens to my dinner at least three days per week”
- “I will join my friend Suzie at a local yoga class at least two times per month”
2. Plan for Change
Habits and behaviors are not easy to change without first planning and assuming you can easily change these long-term habits often leads to failure. Simply telling yourself that you want to lose weight does not give you the opportunity you deserve for achieving this goal. Set a timeline of when you’d like to see this change and how you will achieve each step of your journey. If weight loss is your goal, plan for daily, weekly, and monthly targets and keep a journal handy for tracking these changes. Include a list of the tools and resources available for you to work towards each point on your timeline.
Examples of Resources:
- Daily text message reminders from Weigh and Win.
- Friends or family members that hold you accountable.
- Use the Weigh and Win journal for your daily motivation.
- Sticky notes placed in highly visible locations around your home or office.
- Daily motivation and self-affirmations written in a notebook or placed on the refrigerator or mirror.
- Journal to track physical activity, meals, stress, and sleep. See below for a sample journal entry.
3. Expect Setbacks
Be patient with yourself when you feel you’ve hit a plateau or if you feel as though you weren’t as successful at working towards your health goals as you’d like. An occasional slip isn’t worth giving up your ultimate resolutions, although they should be acknowledged and learned from. If you eat too many calories or do not make the time to make it to the gym, forgive yourself and get right back to it the next day with a little extra motivation in mind. These setbacks are not worth the overarching success you’ll achieve. Acknowledging them as a part of the process and accepting yourself is part of you becoming the healthiest you can be.
4. Listen to Your Body
You are going to have days that are more stressful or that require a little extra motivation to keep you on track. Listen to the cues from your body, adapt, and stay engaged in your healthy resolutions as much as possible. If you are feeling under the weather, rest. If you feel that you cannot push as hard at the gym, slow down. Just by becoming more mindful of what your body needs, you are already creating an opportunity for managing your lifestyle changes. Take note of these days in your journal and learn how to better adapt for future setbacks. This takes time, but is well worth it.
5. Reward Yourself
Give yourself credit for all your hard work. It’s easy for us to be hard on ourselves when we fail at something and difficult to celebrate our successes. Celebrate your achievements, regardless of how large or small. Give yourself permission to reap the rewards of sticking with your resolutions and do so in a meaningful way. If losing weight is your New Year’s resolution, use your Weigh and Win reward to celebrate your weight loss achievements. Have you been eyeing a new wardrobe? Perhaps a romantic getaway? What about dining at a fancy new restaurant in town? Regardless of what inspires you, allow this to motivate you to stick with your goals!
Tip: Try placing a dollar in a “Reward Jar” for each day of success. If you have a set-back day, remove a dollar. Use this reward to treat yourself to that something special.
Auld Lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers, by John C. Norcross, Marci S. Mrykalo, Matthew D. Blagys , University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Volume 58, Issue 4 (2002).