“This year I’m going to exercise more.” “I’m going to go on a diet and lose weight.” Do these resolutions ring a bell? If so, you’re not alone because these are two of the most common resolutions made each year. Unfortunately, by the end of January many have begun to slip back into old eating habits and those trips to the gym become few and far between.
So what’s the problem, why do so many give up so quickly? Is keeping resolutions a matter of willpower? I would have to say that it is NOT at matter of willpower, rather willingness. If you make resolutions that you have difficulty keeping, then maybe the plan is flawed, not you. One of the most common mistakes with making resolutions is trying to do too much too quickly. The following are some tips for making resolutions that last:
- 1.) Write your goals down. Written goals are more likely to be accomplished than arbitrary goals that are in your mind.
- 2.) Make goals specific and measurable. Instead of saying, “I want to exercise more”. Try saying, “I will walk for 20 minutes 3 times a week”. This allows you determine if you accomplished what you set out to do.
- 3.) Remember that slow and steady wins the race! Everyone wants a quick fix, but when you’re sprinting to the finish line, you won’t last long. Think of changes that you know you will be able to keep for life. If you can’t see yourself sustaining a change 6 months down the road, then it is probably not appropriate for the time being. Gradual changes are more likely to stick, and those are the ones that lead to a weight loss you can maintain.
- 4.) Set yourself up for success.For example, if you don’t exercise now, don’t make your resolution to exercise 1 hour a day/ 5 days a week. This is most likely not something you will be able to sustain. A better goal would be something you know you can do, but is more than what you’re doing currently (ie: exercise for 15 minutes 2 times per week). Gradually build on to your goals once you are comfortable with your new habits.
- 5.) Be positive. Nobody likes to be told what they can’t have. It is much better to think in terms of what you would like to include. For example, don’t say, “I can’t have any sweets”. Rather tell yourself that you will include more fruits and veggies. Often times, these will displace things that are more caloric, helping with your goals.
- 6.) Reward yourself. Don’t wait until you achieve your goal weight to start living…focus on the process not the outcome. Rewarding yourself along the way can be a great motivating factor to keep you going. You deserve rewards for the changes you are making to become a healthier person. It is best if your rewards are not food related though. (Check back for some ideas for rewards that are not food related)
Good luck with your New Year Resolutions! Keep in mind that everyone is going to slip up from time to time. When that happens, reassess as to whether the plan in place is realistic or not. If so, don’t wait until tomorrow to get back on track, start immediately and think about what is “the next best thing” you can do to help you achieve your long term goals.