Have you started thinking about your New Years’ resolutions yet? Many of us have, and chances are at least a good number of us have decided upon goals that revolve around fitness, health, or nutrition. Every year, an astounding number of people resolve to lose weight, exercise more, eat better, stress less, or undergo other changes that relieve health woes.
Unfortunately, studies show that after six months, only 40 percent of people are still on track to accomplishing their resolutions. This year, we’re here to make those resolutions stick – it’s time to become your best self, whatever that means to you! Whether it’s saying no more often, logging more time at the gym, or simply fitting more movement into your day, this is the year that you cross those goals off your list.
Now, studies show that it takes an average of 66 days to convert a new practice into a habit. That’s over two whole months of implementing that action consistently. The key to making this happen? Set realistic goals. Make your resolution as specific and measurable as possible to ensure you stick with it. For instance, “working out more” is a general goal that can feel daunting and can be difficult to persist with; going to the gym three days a week is much more attainable.
Another way to do this is to split your goals into baby steps. Rather than “losing 30 pounds,” resolve to lose one pound per week for 30 weeks. Starting the week off with that smaller goal makes it feel more doable, and you’ll be less likely to give up. Take your goals day by day, week by week, rather than looking at them over a year; the specificity will make your goals more manageable.
As you set out your specific, measurable goals, take the time this week to really consider the “why.” Why, exactly, do you want to accomplish this goal? Does your gym time coincide with your desire to live longer? Does your desire for better nutrition stem from a need to lower your cholesterol for a healthier heart? Do you want to stress less to act as a good example for your kids? Really drill down into the “why” of your resolution, and write that reason down. When you feel like giving up, take a look at your reasoning – chances are, it’ll drive you to keep going.
On that note, it’s important to associate your goal with the good. For instance, it’s easier to stick with a fitness goal if you’re doing it to increase your longevity, health, and happiness – not to get back at an ex-boyfriend. Tackle your goals for you and the people you love. It will truly help you stay on track!
It’s also important to associate your goals with the good in a different way: make them fun! Exercise shouldn’t be dreadful; experiment with different machines, classes, and outdoor regimens until you find one you truly enjoy. Allot some time on the weekends to enjoy your cooking and breathe in the smells of your veggie-packed chili. The more you enjoy the road to success, the more likely you are to stay on it.
When you hit a significant milestone, treat yourself! Did you finally fit in four runs this week? Buy yourself that new dress you’ve had your eye on. Have you been fitting more vegetables and fruits into your diet for an entire month? Grab a decadent slice of cake at the grocery store – you deserve it! Rewarding yourself associates accomplishment with positive memories, making it more likely you’ll stick with it through the next obstacle.
All in all, it’s critical to stay confident. You are stronger than you think! As you go through the strides toward success, never be afraid to switch gears. If something isn’t working for you (say, you try to fit in salads but hate them), switch things up (vegetable soups are great). Reevaluate your triumphs after a few months, change your regiment as needed, and keep going. After all, you’re doing this for you, and we promise… living a healthier lifestyle is all worth it!