Tips for making realistic New Year’s resolutions – and keeping them
More people than ever are looking to get healthy this resolution season. But sticking to your new health goals isn’t as easy as writing them on a piece of paper. Research has found that it takes at least 21 days to form a new habit. Unfortunately, that’s more than enough time to fall back into your old ways — or forget why you started in the first place. Follow these tips to not only stick to your New Year’s health resolutions, but to set yourself up for success from the beginning.
Small Changes, Big Impact
Successfully pulling off a diet overhaul can seem like a daunting or even impossible task. But by making tiny changes you can easily incorporate into your daily life, your odds of staying on the wagon greatly increase. Think of it as creating multiple little habits at a time. Before you know it, they’ll be so ingrained in your daily life that they don’t seem like resolutions at all.
Here are some healthy ideas:
Reduce your sugar intake. By cutting back on added sugar, you can expect to see less belly fat, younger-looking skin and higher energy levels.
Eat your veggies. We don’t think about veggies in the morning, but they are especially beneficial at breakfast. Adding a handful of fibrous spinach to your eggs in the morning can help satisfy hunger far longer than a sugar-heavy bowl of cereal.
Get into meal prep. While pre-planning and cooking meals costs time and money up front, in the end, you’ll be glad you did it. When you come home from work tired and hungry, it can be hard to muster the energy to prepare a healthy dinner. But when you know one’s waiting for you in the refrigerator or the slow cooker, you’ll realize it’s worth the effort.
Guidelines for Success
It’s no surprise that resolution-makers tout fitness as a top New Year’s goal. It may be equally less surprising that only a handful of people keep those resolutions — only 37 percent of people in their 20’s and 16 percent of people over 50. Those who do reach their goals tend to follow these common guidelines for success:
Get social. As social beings, humans are programmed to modify their behavior in the presence of others. So instead of going solo to the gym, sign up for a group fitness class with a friend. Use each other as motivators for success. By tracking and sharing your progress on social media, you can help others keep you accountable.
Mark your calendar. Research shows that by setting specific and challenging goals, you’re 90 percent more likely to reach them. Pick a date of an event you want to attend, whether it’s running a race or attending your high school reunion, and determine how you’re going to achieve your goal by that date.
Be specific. The more specific you can be about your goals, the better. For example, telling yourself you’ll cut out bread and refined sugar for a month is much more effective than telling yourself you’ll lose 10 pounds.
Avoid Multitasking. Trying to focus on too many things can be detrimental to reaching your goals. Similar to creating a goal that’s too broad, having too many can be just as harmful. Instead of setting five goals for yourself at once, tackle one at a time. Tell yourself you’ll get into strength training three times a week, but don’t commit to a new Paleo diet, strength training and kickboxing all at the same time.
No matter what your health and wellness goals are, take it step by step. By setting small, specific goals you can commit to, you’re much more likely to stick to them when the going gets tough. If you feel yourself slipping back into old habits, just remember why you set your goals, and keep going. That way, you won’t be making the same resolutions again next year.
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