New Year, New You: Sticking To Your Healthy Resolutions

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By Linda G. Everett, MD, MHA

If you are like many Americans, you may have rung in 2012 with one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions – to lose those pesky extra pounds. The first few weeks may have started with a bang but as times goes by your well-intentioned resolution seems to fizzle. Making healthy resolutions is easy but keeping them long-term can be the tricky part. With a few tips and tricks to maintain your focus, you can be sure to stay on track throughout the year.

Set Realistic Goals: Be realistic and give yourself multiple smaller goals you can actually obtain. When you fail to reach an unrealistic goal, you may be tempted to give up altogether. Rather than making a broad statement such as “I’m going to lose 100 pounds”, set process driven goals that are attainable but still give you a challenge such as “Every day I’m going to replace one calorie-packed snack with a fruit or vegetable.” Achieving these smaller goals also gives you a sense of accomplishment and motivation for the bigger ones.

Create a Plan: Like anything else in our busy lives, creating (and sticking to) a detailed plan of action will keep you on track.  Decide what physical activities you will incorporate into your routine, plan time to go grocery shopping for healthy foods, and plan your meals ahead of time. Having a well laid out plan will keep you focused and accountable.

Keep a Food and Exercise Journal: This often over-looked tool is key in achieving long term commitment to weight loss and physical fitness.  Track the food you eat, the water you drink, and the physical activity you perform throughout the day.  Journaling can help you cut back on mindless eating and is a great place to document your weight loss accomplishments.

Find Fun Exercises: The key to sticking with an exercise plan long-term is to find exercises that are fun and keep you interested. If clocking hours on the treadmill doesn’t seem like your idea of a good time, find something that does. It may be a video game that gets your heart pumping, signing up for that fitness class you’ve heard so much about, or hitting
the town for a night of calorie-burning dancing.

Reward Yourself: Don’t forget to celebrate your successes.  As you reach each of the smaller milestones you’ve set for yourself, do something to reward your hard work.  For example, each time you lose 10 pounds, treat yourself to a new outfit, a pedicure, or even a bubble bath.  Just be sure your rewards are not high in calories!

Get Support: Embark on your weight loss journey with a friend, family member, or coworker.  Having a weight loss buddy with similar goals can be a great motivation and very encouraging.   Take a brisk walk together, go grocery shopping together, help each other through the difficult times and celebrate one another’s successes.

Using these tools will help you stick to your plan long term. Keep in mind your healthy resolution is a journey and not something achieved overnight. If you fall down, get back up – don’t let minor setbacks discourage you. By consistently practicing healthy habits, you will eventually reach your weight loss goal. Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year!


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