Who’s thinking about resolutions? It’s the Christmas season after all. There are way too many things to think about before we have to come up with the obligatory New Year’s Resolutions, right? Besides, those goodintentioned resolutions rarely last, so why even think about them? The answer to that question is simple; if done correctly, resolutions can become healthy habits.
To give a bit more insight into what most of us already know about New Year’s Resolutions, here are a few depressing statistics from TheWeek.com:
• 45% of us make at least one resolution each year
• After 6 months, 45% of us have given it up
• 88% of all resolutions eventually fail
Of all resolutions made, what are the two most common? Without much thinking you probably would guess:
1) Losing weight
2) Getting fit
And you’d be right! However, more statistics from the same source tell us that:
• 10% of Americans gain at least 5 pounds over the holidays, and at least one pound of that never comes off. (That 1 pound a year adds up…)
• 40% of people starting a new exercise program quit within 7 weeks
• 70% quit within 12 weeks
These resolutions may be critically important to your health and longevity, so why do they frequently fail? Here’s the reason:
Motivation gets you started. Habit keeps you going…
We may genuinely want to lose weight or start an exercise program or stop smoking, for example, but until we turn those desires into actual daily habits, we will not be successful. A habit is defined as a pattern of action that is acquired and has become so automatic that it is difficult to break. We all have some bad habits, of course, but we need to have a process to successfully turn those new motivations into good habits.
Here are a few suggestionis from the American Psychological Association to make your New Year's Resolution a healthy habit:
Start small - Be specific about dietary changes and exercise. Make it your initial goal, for example, to eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables daily for the month of January. As far as exercise is concerned, commit to walking at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days each week.
Talk about it – When you share your new goals with family and friends, you suddenly become more accountable than when you keep your goals a secret. In addition, write it down! Keep an exercise and/or a food journal and track your progress – everyday. Not every day is going to be successful, but you will know and be able to keep track of your progress. Don’t beat yourself up. No one is perfect, so don’t get discouraged if you veered from your eating plan for one day or skipped your walk. Just know that you’re human, and you will get back on track tomorrow.
Ask for support – We’re not experts in every field. If you truly don’t understand how to begin a healthy eating plan, consult a dietician or health professional. Show them your eating journal and let them give you suggestions for improvement. Let a fitness trainer design a personalized fitness plan that you can follow, working on your own physical strengths and weaknesses.
Why you shouldn't wait
We are all so proficient at putting off today what we could do tomorrow, or next week, or next year. So it goes with healthy living activities. Why start now when I’ve got plenty of time later? Dr. Mark Lachs, the director of geriatrics at the New York Presbyterian Healthcare System, wrote a book entitled Treat Me, Not My Age (Viking, 2010). He emphasizes that lifestyle choices made in midlife can have a major impact on your functional ability later in life. For example, if you begin a daily walking program at age 45, you could delay immobility to 90 and beyond. But, if you instead become a couch potato at age 45 and remain so, immobility can happen as early as 60. Is that motivating enough for you?
Lessons learned from permanant lifestyle changes:
•It starts with a decision.
•It begins with the first step.
•It’s maintained by doing it even when you don’t feel like it.
•It’s a lifestyle change. You’re doing things today that you’ll continue for the rest of your life. You’re making healthy habits!
•The best workout for you is the one you will actually do.
•You’re setting a positive example for your family and friends.
Start Today For a Better Tomorrow!