It's the end of January – how are you feeling about your New Year's Resolutions?
You've got your resolutions in place for the new year, you've done your grocery shopping and gym membership sign-ups, and now, it's time to make sure that you can stick with them.
I know I've failed in my new year's resolutions more than once, and it's easy to get discouraged when we see ourselves falling short of our goals. It can be hard to keep up with your resolutions, especially health resolutions, if you've made the goals too lofty or the methods too strict. But if you've managed to keep up with your resolution so far, that's awesome! You're one step closer to being healthier, and that's always a good thing.
But if you've fallen off the wagon, don't despair! There are ways to make sure that you're successful in maintaining your health resolutions and to get yourself back on track. Remember, it's never, EVER too late to make healthy changes in your life, so if you haven't been doing well with your resolutions, dust yourself off and let's get back at it!
A lot of resolution failures come from the resolution goals being too grandiose or us thinking that our resolutions will result in immediate changes. So, what inevitably happens? We don't reach our goals soon enough or we don't lose weight quick enough or we keep missing our workouts, we feel bad that we can't stick to our new routine, we let ourselves get discouraged, and we abandon our health goals before the end of January.
Instead of setting such lofty goals that no mortal being can achieve, we should try a slower, simpler, step-by-step approach, with mini goals along the way that we can actually accomplish—and then keep going from there! Also, keep your goal realistic - If you want to lose 15 pounds in two weeks (hint: you don't), then give yourself six months instead! You'll be more likely to stick with it and not get discouraged if it takes longer than expected
For example, let's say that your new year's resolution is that you want to lose weight, and who doesn't? It's one of the more common new year's resolutions. Instead of cold turkey giving up sugar and bread and all snack foods altogether and starting an intense 5-day a week workout routine, try eating only vegetables and fruits for one meal every day, and adding two simple workout routines per week, like 30 minutes of yoga or just going for a walk. After two weeks or so, choose another food (let's say gluten or carbohydrates) that you struggle with and omit it from your diet during one meal period, and see if you can increase those two workouts. Now that you have a couple of weeks of some good meal choices under your belt and hopefully you've been able to be consistent with your workouts, try for two meals a day that you only eat fruits and vegetables, with one meal adding some lean protein, and add another simple workout to your week. Soon, you'll be able to omit belly-bloating foods from all three meals while adding great fruits and vegetables to your diet, and you'll have a great base workout for your week, the results of which you should start seeing in your waistline in a month or two!
By making small, manageable changes over time, your body will slowly adapt and accept them as normal habits so they become second nature! And by not setting hard deadlines for your goals, you'll be able to navigate pitfalls and shortcomings without getting overwhelmed and discouraged.
Remember, if you want to lose 20 pounds by next summer (and who doesn't?), you're setting yourself up for failure by focusing on a single number and not focusing on how to get there. Instead of saying "I want to lose 20 pounds," which is very vague and sets up an unrealistic expectation of what your body should look like (and when), say something like this instead: "I'm going to work out three times per week."
Again, work with goals that are realistic and attainable, and don't get hung up on the number of pounds lost. If you're eating more fruits and vegetables and working out more consistently than you were, you've already achieved something great! Even if the pounds don't just fall off (and they NEVER just fall off, please don't expect that of yourself!), you're still a healthier person than you were when you started – cut yourself some slack!
I truly believe that with these small, manageable goals, with clear and realistic expectations, you will do so much better this year in your health resolutions! Here's to a great 2023!