Eat Smart, Move More

Small Steps to Success for a Healthy New Year

It’s that time of year again. No, not when cold weather keeps us cooped up indoors, making it a challenge to be active or when everywhere we look there are tempting holiday treats full of calories, sugar and fat. Well, it is that time of year too, but I’m talking about New Year’s Resolution season. When we decide for the 10th year in a row to lose those pesky 50 pounds so we can be swimsuit ready in time for spring break. Or to start an exercise plan that takes us from couch to marathon in just 4 easy weeks. Or to quit smoking cold turkey through sheer will power.

What's your resolution this year?

What’s your resolution this year?

Reality Check

Sure, these goals sound pretty unrealistic when I say it like that. But honestly, haven’t we all been a little too ambitious with our New Year’s Resolutions in the past. And it doesn’t help that we are overwhelmed with a flurry of advertisements, news stories and Facebook posts reinforcing this message of “This year is different. Completely change your lifestyle without too much effort in no time at all.” It’s no wonder 1 in 4 people don’t even make it through the first week of the year before giving up. And less than half make it to 6 months. (source)

But this year is different

This year could be different. But you’ll have to do things differently. Here are my tips for making 2014 the year your resolutions stick.

  1. Start small. Focus on one manageable behavior. Work on this action until it’s a habit. When it comes automatically, move to a new behavior. Baby steps are easier and more successful than trying to go from couch potato to marathon runner overnight.
  2. Be SMART. Use SMART Goals to create a successful New Year’s Resolution.
  3. Stick with it. I can tell you right now, you will slip up. Everyone does. The difference lies in what happens next. Think about what went wrong and make a plan to avoid it next time. Then get right back on track instead of joining the rest of Americans that gave up on their resolutions after one mistake.
  4. Treat Your Self. Celebrate your successes. Be sure to do so in a healthy way- think manicure or a cute new shirt instead of pizza party. Deep down, our brains are not much different than an animal’s. Use it to your advantage. Meet a goal, get a reward.
  5. Get your family on-board. You can’t and shouldn’t do it alone. You’ll need support when it gets tough. Let your family know what you’re doing and why. Then ask for their help. It’s hard enough resisting the temptation running through your own head, let alone having it come from your family, too.

Sharing Time!

So what is my New Year’s Resolution? I will exercise before work for 1 hour, 3 days per week in 2014. This is a fairly big change for me, as I have only occasionally managed to drag myself out of bed to work out early in the morning this fall/winter. So to break it into smaller steps, I am going to focus on going to bed and waking up earlier for the next 2 weeks (until I go back to work on Jan 2nd). If I miss my morning session, my back-up plan is to hit the gym during my lunch break or after work. My reward for meeting my exercise goal for 6 weeks will be a new coffee mug and I’ll buy a new pair of running shoes if I meet my goal for 6 months. My support will come from my coworkers, who will be joining me at the gym and from my family, who will be helping make sure I go to bed on time. With all this in place now, I am confident that I will be very active in 2014!

What are your New Year’s Resolutions and plan for achieving them? Share in the comments.

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