It is almost January – the month when gyms become extremely crowded and you may have to book a bike two days in advance to even consider getting a spot in your favorite spin class. It is that time of year when people make a New Year’s Resolution, are excited about it for a month or two, and then lose their motivation. Many people set themselves up for failure by making resolutions that are unrealistic or not specific enough. When people have an “all or nothing” approach, they often end up forgetting about their health goals come February.
Here are five common (and important) health resolutions, and tips on how to make them achievable and maintainable beyond the new year.
- Lose weight. It is important to be specific and decide how much weight you want to lose and by what date. “I want to lose five pounds in the next month” is easier to maintain than “I want to lose 50 pounds this year.” Figure out exactly how you will lose the weight, whether it is by lowering your calorie intake every day, practicing portion control or exercising (or all!). Be sure to write your progress down in a journal so you can hold yourself accountable and determine what is working and what is not working for you.
- Eat healthier. Decide what eating healthy means to you, and create a clear plan on how you will change your current way of eating. “I will eat healthy next year” will most likely last you all of about three weeks. Try saying to yourself, “I will have a serving of vegetables with every meal,” or “I will cut out processed carbohydrates and eat whole grains instead.” Do not wait until the new year to practice your healthy eating – start now.
- Work out. A common resolution may be to “go to the gym 5 days a week.” This may only work for about a month until work and other priorities get in the way. Make sure your resolution is realistic for you and your busy lifestyle. A resolution such as, “I will get moving for 30 minutes every day” will allow you to exercise away from the gym and maintain your resolution. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, doing squats while watching TV or taking a walk during your lunch break for easy ways to get moving.
- Catch more Zzz’s. Again, be specific. Determine how you will get more sleep, whether it is going to bed an hour earlier, or waking up at the same time every morning (even on weekends) to prevent insomnia. Be sure to unplug from technology an hour before bed, and aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night.
- Cut back on alcohol. We all know too much alcohol can lead to weight gain, depression and other health risks, so decide how much alcohol you will drink to fit your lifestyle. If you currently drink wine every single night, a realistic resolution could be limiting yourself to one glass of wine per night during the week and two drinks per night on the weekend.