At the stroke of midnight that separates December 31st from January 1st, you share kisses and hugs with your loved ones, and toast the New Year. The celebrations are hopeful and positive, and you feel that this is going to be your year. So you write out your New Year’s resolutions, and eat clean, drink plenty of water, and keep fit… for maybe two weeks.
You’re not alone. 23% of people who set themselves New Year’s resolutions quit a week in, rising to 36% at the end of January, then 50% by the end of March.
But it is possible to set new year’s resolutions that stick, focusing on your health and fitness – without feeling like you’ve chosen the short straw.
How to Write Realistic New Year’s Resolutions
We’re all guilty of occasionally being a little overambitious when setting out our goals for the year – or, worse, just a little too vague. When faced with a blank sheet of paper, it’s tempting to fill it with amazing aims – but keeping to two or three resolutions is much more manageable, and keeps your focus tight. You may find it helpful to choose a word of the year that unites all your goals, for example: peace, positive, or health. The word can be a shortcut or mantra to remind you of your aims for the year.
A series of studies following 200 people who set resolutions over two years shows you some strategies to bear in mind.
The researchers discovered that:
- Avoiding tempting situations is key to sticking to your resolutions. This is especially true when sticking to a specific diet, or avoiding smoking or drinking alcohol.
- Believing in yourself is a powerful motivator! Confidence in your abilities spurs you on.
- Setting up a rewards system is helpful to stay on track.
- If you see a slip-up as a minor setback, rather than an outright fail, you’re more likely to carry on with your new habit, instead of giving up completely. So having that slice of dessert last night really isn’t the end of the world!
The study suggests that the way in which you approach the challenge is important. So is the way you phrase your New Year’s resolutions.
If Your Aim Is to Improve Fitness and Health, Set SMART Goals
Sometimes the way in which you write or plan out your New Year’s resolutions can set you up to fail – an uncomfortable thought, but it’s easily fixed!
Perhaps your goals and resolutions look like these examples:
- I will go to the gym more
- I will lose weight
- I will read more books
- I will find time to relax
If so, your lack of specific aim is letting you down. The good news is that you can tailor your resolutions to work harder for you, using the SMART method. Students, entrepreneurs, and creatives all use the SMART method to come up with realistic goals.
SMART stands for:
- Specific – your goal should be as specific as possible in order for you to visualize the end result.
- Measurable – if you can’t measure your progress, you may not feel motivated. Having a way to chart your success is much more exciting.
- Attainable – your resolution should be achievable, and realistic. Of course, you can aim for the stars where possible, but bear in mind your resolutions are only meant to cover you for a year. If you have a particularly big goal, it might be wiser to break it into more manageable chunks. For example, spending the next year practicing French before booking that once-in-a lifetime trip.
- Relevant – is this goal the right fit for you right now? For example, you may want to start going to the gym again – but perhaps that old sports injury isn’t healed and you should concentrate on finding a physiotherapist first.
- Time-bound – the target date for completion, which, when you’re dealing with resolutions, should be the end of the year.
So if you take the example of a poor resolution above – I will go to the gym more – it’s possible to improve it by applying the SMART method, as follows:
I want to improve my fitness by working out at the gym three times a week, tracking my progress using my Fitbit, and working on my form with a personal trainer. I want to become healthier so I can join my family on long hikes by the end of the year.
With a fully fleshed out goal, you’ll have both the tools and the incentives to keep working towards it, which you’ll need to achieve your nutrition and diet targets.
Incorporate Mindfulness into Everyday Life
Having concrete goals is a vital way to challenge yourself, but you also need to build skills to handle unexpected barriers and internal criticism. Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years, and the concept has been attached to everything from meditation to coloring books. But the core idea behind it, living in the here-and-now, and letting fears and expectations drift away, is an important tool you can use to make real progress.
Mindfulness can be a form of kindness towards yourself, and it’s been shown to help patients struggling with disorders such as binge eating or depression set and achieve specific goals. You can use mindfulness to examine your thoughts and feelings in specific instances when your resolve begins to falter – in the fitness example, you can identify whether you really don’t want to go to the gym because of the exercise itself, or if you’re simply dreading the drive there after a long day. If it’s the latter, you can direct compassion towards yourself, and do some yoga exercises at home instead.
Mindfulness can go hand in hand with following New Year’s resolutions – it’s no fun to shackle yourself to strict rules you have to follow day in day out. If you don’t bend your resolutions, they’ll break, and your New Year goals are meant to empower you, not leave you defeated.
Get Your Hormone and Nutritional Levels Checked
Often, your New Year’s resolutions are health-related, with good reason. While fitness and diet may be a concern for you after the excess of the holidays, it’s worth getting other aspects of your health checked before you begin your new habits. If you’re experiencing fatigue, mood changes, headaches, insomnia, and weight gain, it’s worthwhile to book an appointment to have your hormone levels checked. If there is an imbalance, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is the safest way to reduce your symptoms,
Equally, a nutritional deficiency can alter your energy levels, frequency of headaches, mood, and cognitive function – however healthily you eat. If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and want your hormones or nutritional levels checked, request an appointment today with Dr. Lyn Berutti at Dynamic Life Center,or call (817) 912-1600. Though it’s no longer the 1st January, you can still make changes to improve your life today.