You’ve made it through the Holiday Season. You avoided colds and flu, and now you’re turning an eye towards your goals in the New Year ahead. If you’re like almost half of all adults, you have a New Year’s resolution. But once the champagne flutes are back on the shelf, it’s hard to make that pledge stick. A week into the New Year, just 77 percent of resolution makers are still on track, and after six months, only about 40 percent will have stayed the course.
Setting manageable health goals can help you achieve and maintain your New Year’s healthy resolutions.
Why New Year’s resolutions fail
Why is maintaining resolutions so tough? Researchers have identified several culprits, such as setting a goal that’s too vague or having unrealistic expectations (lose 30 pounds by March 1—ha!). But perhaps the biggest challenge is turning your wishes into immediate action, then keeping with it. “It’s easy to change your attitude but difficult to change your behavior,” explains Christine Whelan, PhD, clinical professor in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “If you’re committed to it, however, you can make a new habit or behavior permanent.”
How to set manageable goals
Outsmarting the odds means setting doable goals (go from couch to 10K, not a triathlon), then breaking them down into reasonable steps. A new you in the New Year starts right here.
Find out how to reboot your diet, your workout, your stressful days, and your energy, and how you can make those resolutions stick.
Reboot your diet
When it comes to cleaning up your eating, take a tip from the Boy Scouts: Be prepared. If you want to rise above temptation, like a yummy app spread at a party, you have to think one step ahead, says New York City nutritionist Joy Bauer, RD. The Today show contributor and founder of Nourish Snacks says that it also helps to have no-deprivation strategies, she adds: “Eating better is often associated with misery, so it’s no wonder that so many people throw in the towel.” Use these tactics to eat healthier, long-term.
Reboot your workout
Get-in-shape goals tend to fizzle as early as the third week of January, per recent data based on Facebook searches. Yet some keep at it. What’s their secret? “People who are successful are more likely to view fitness as a permanent lifestyle change, not an activity they can give up once they reach a number on the scale,” says Kirsten McCormick, founder of Running with Forks, a wellness coaching company in Seattle.
Take it a week at a time
“It’s easier to make a plan to go running three times this week than vow to run three times a week indefinitely,” says Whelan. “If you make your fitness goals week by week rather than so far-reaching, you’ll have more success, and that in itself is motivating.”
Schedule a Physical Exam
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to say exactly who benefits MOST from a yearly physical examination, Duke University medical professionals can agree on their importance. Regular check-ups are important to maintain a relationship with your doctor and to receive individualized counseling based on your family health history and your lifestyle.
Share your battle
Social networks function as an audience to cheer you on and offer advice. A 2013 study found that when Twitter users looking to lose weight tweeted about their goals, they shed more pounds than those who didn’t; research out of Northwestern University showed that CalorieKing users who “friended” others on the site lost at least 7 percent more body weight than the less social folks.