It’s hard to believe but 2016 is already winding down. As the new year rapidly approaches, it’s only natural to start to think about a health resolution and ways to improve your quality of life. What changes would you like to make in 2017? If the answer is to better your overall health and wellness, you’ve come to the right place and you’re definitely not alone.
Planning A Health Resolution
Committing to a better diet and exercise routine is a common New Year’s health resolution. In fact, a 2012 online Harris poll of more than 3,000 adults found it to be the most popular goal with 21 percent of people resolving to lose weight and 14 percent planning to improve their exercise routine. Curbing a smoking habit is sought after by about five percent of people who make resolutions too.
According to an article in the Washington Post, about forty to fifty percent of Americans will make a New Year’s resolution but that doesn’t mean that they keep it long-term. Of people who make a resolution, one out of four won’t even make it past the first week but nearly half claim to make the resolution stick for at least six months. Fast forward two years and about 19 percent of people have consistently stuck to their new lifestyle routine.
Tips on How to Make Your Resolution Stick
Presumably, if you’re going to make a New Year’s health resolution, you want it to last, right? Here are some tricks to transition your well-meaning hopes into life-changing habits:
- Be Specific – Avoid generic health resolutions, like simply to lose weight or start going to the gym more often, and set a specific goal instead. For example, make a pledge to start using the stairs instead of the elevator every day or to work out three days a week. Creating a resolution that can be measured and easily tracked makes it much more likely that you’ll stick to it. The easier it is to monitor your progress, the simpler it is to see your hard work pay off. Once you realize that your efforts are making a difference, you’ll be inspired to keep it up.
- Be Realistic – Don’t set a health resolution that is too far-fetched. If you make your goal too difficult to reach, the chances of getting discouraged by the lack of immediate results may lead to you abandoning your goal. Instead of vowing to lose 50 pounds during the year, make a goal to lose 10 pounds every couple of months. Even better, come up with a plan to reach your goal, such as to make healthier eating choices or increase the number of times that you work out each week. Breaking a larger goal into manageable steps makes it far less intimidating.
- Be Reasonable – You don’t have to quit something cold turkey. By completely depriving yourself of something that you’re used to, whether it’s eating sweets or binge watching Netflix, you’re practically setting yourself up for failure. Instead, make a resolution to limit the behaviors that you’d like to change but still allow yourself to indulge on occasion. Perhaps you can start by allowing yourself to enjoy your favorite guilty pleasure one day a week but strive to maintain a healthier lifestyle at other times.
- Be Accountable – It’s much easier to give up on your health resolution if you’re the only person who knows about it. After all, you’re only disappointing yourself. By sharing your resolution with friends and family, you create a support group of people who want you to succeed and can hold you accountable to your goals. For instance, if you want to get in shape, you can promise to go jogging three times a week. To make yourself accountable to this plan, you can either team up with a friend as a jogging partner or you can share your progress on social media.
- Be Inspired – Create a dream board and display it somewhere you look everyday. Browse through magazines to find content to cut and paste on your board. Be sure to include inspirational quotes and images that motivate you to stick to your goals. By creating a visual representation of the end goal of your resolution, you’ll increase your odds of following it through.
- Be Persistent – Life often doesn’t go as planned and there will likely be hurdles along the way to reaching your goals. Don’t let detours throw you off track. Even if you miss a work out, simply resume your schedule the next day. Remember that it takes about 66 days on average to form a new habit, according to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology. The same study found that skipping a day didn’t disrupt the habit forming process so don’t let little hiccups in the routine slow you down.
- Be Organized – Use a wellness portal, like Medikeeper, or a wearable fitness device, like Fitbit, to keep track of your progress and goals. Instead of manually recording or estimating who many steps you walked or how many calories you burned, the use of these programs can do the work for you. You’ll receive more accurate results with less effort so you can spend more time getting fit and less time compiling data. Wearable devices can also keep track of your sleep patterns and even remind you with a gentle nudge if you’ve been inactive for a long period. Wellness portals, which keep track of all your vital health information and organize it on an easy-to-use dashboard, can also provide you with helpful tips and informative articles to inspire you on your journey.
- Be Motivated – Of course, reaching your goal should be motivation in itself but sometimes a little extra incentive can give you the extra push that you need to succeed. Create a reward that you’ll get to enjoy once you reach your goal. Maybe it will be a tropical vacation where you can show off your new physique or a day at the spa to relax after all your hard work. Having a reward can help motivate you to stick with your resolution even when the going gets tough.
Keep these tips in mind as you enter the new year and embark on your health resolutions. With a little effort and a decent amount of willpower, you can be one of the New Year’s resolution success stories and may even motivate others to follow your path.