New Year’s Resolutions … promises full of good intentions for improved health and fitness. Each year, between 40-45 percent of Americans make resolutions to improve their health. Losing weight was the Number One resolution in 2012.
Unfortunately, most people fail to keep these promises past the first few weeks of the new year. “We live in a quick-fix society and even our resolutions are not immune”, stated Jill Swanson, Health Officer for the West Windsor Health Department, which serves the communities of West Windsor, Robbinsville and Hightstown. “Long lasting change requires commitment, time and practice.”
- So, what’s the secret to a successful resolution? While you can’t wave a magic wand and make your resolution come true, here are some simple steps to make it easier:
Be realistic by choosing an obtainable goal. Resolving to look like a super model is not realistic for the majority of us, but promising to eat fewer calories and include physical activity in our daily lives is very possible.
- Avoid choosing a resolution that you have not successfully achieved in past years. This can set you up for failure, frustration and disappointment. If you are still tempted to make a promise that you’ve made before, try altering it. Instead of declaring that you are going to lose 30 pounds, make losing a pound (or two) a week your new goal.
- Create a detailed game plan and be specific. All successful businesses start with a plan that describes their mission and the specifics on how they will achieve it. Even if it seems obvious, write down your own personal plan and you’ll be more likely to succeed as well.
- Break your one BIG resolution into smaller, less intimidating pieces throughout the year that will help you reach your ultimate goal. Even if you aren’t able to reach your final goal, you will have many smaller – but still significant – achievements along the way. If your BIG goal is to speed walk three miles, your smaller goals could be (1) walking one mile in less than 20 minutes, (2) adding strength training to increase your muscular endurance and (3) walking two miles with a “personal best” speed that is faster than last year’s time.
- Ask for support. Be specific about the type of support you want, so it doesn’t backfire and become more irritating than helpful. Some people like being constantly reminded of their goals, while others prefer a periodic check-in at the end of every week (or month).
- Reward yourself with each milestone you reach. If you’ve stuck with your resolution for two months, treat yourself to something special but be careful of how you do it. If you’ve lost 5 pounds, reward yourself to something non-food related, like a professional massage.
- Get professional assistance. Most people need help and sometimes a friend just isn’t enough. Join a gym or a structured weight loss program, work with a personal fitness trainer or nutritionist, enroll in a smoking cessation class … choose the support that will work for you. The Public Health Nurse, Sharon Lane RN BSN, states she is available to help you locate health information, services and support. She can be reached at 609-936-8400 to provide referrals for available programs and services that focus on wellness.