When it comes to New Years resolutions, good intentions are not enough. For many of us, we have reached the point in the new year when many behaviors are difficult to maintain. So rather than beating yourself up, here are some tips to help you get back on track:
Be Specific about your Goals
Instead of saying: “I’m going to lose weight,” change the goal to: “I am going to lose 10 pounds in 3 months.” Then, put together a specific plan on how you will achieve this. For example, you might vow to include a salad at lunch instead of French fries, you might sign up for 3 fitness classes a week, or curb night time snacking
Taking on too much too quickly can be overwhelming and unattainable. This can erode confidence that in turn weakens intentions. Instead, start with one small health behavior and work on that. Instead of going from no exercise to running, work on walking first. Again, be specific about times you can do it and for how long. Three times/week for 20 minutes is a great place to start. Start slow and build.
Also-avoid vowing to give up something that you think will be too difficult to maintain over the long term. Vowing to ‘cut out all sugar’ may work in the interim, but is too lofty a goal for many of us and too difficult to maintain over the long run.
Find a Buddy
Having a partner to support your new behaviors can be incredibly motivating. Join a class, support group, or engage your partner or family in your goals. Another option is to be accountable to yourself. Keep a food and activity log.
Be Prepared for Relapse
Changing health behaviors is not a linear process. There will always be setbacks. The key is to turn them around, learn from them, and reboot. If you consistently hit certain obstacles, identify ways that you can overcome these challenges. For example, if lack of time prevents you from exercising, figure out a time that you will be uninterrupted such as early morning or on the weekend.
Treat yourself when you reach a goal. This can be incredibly motivating.