Ah, New Year’s Resolutions. That January 1 ritual we all love to hate.
More often than not, our resolutions are overly ambitious, especially when they relate to health and fitness. And an unrealistic goal can lead to unnecessary anxiety and frustration. The result can destroy any motivation and momentum brought on by hopes for change in the new year.
Unless you ease into lifestyle changes, you’re heading for a quick burnout. Over the years, I have asked trusted health and fitness professionals to give us their thoughts on resolutions that are realistic, sensible and doable. Here are a few:
Dave Chong, co-author of “Eating the Rainbow” and a professor of health promotion and education
Chong says typical resolutions are “extraordinarily vague, such as ‘lose weight,’ ‘be more active,’ or ‘make more money.'” That makes it difficult to determine when a goal has been achieved.
He recommends the S.M.A.R.T. method for setting new year’s resolutions:
For example, extrapolate “I want to be more active” to: “I want to walk at least 5,000 steps per day, four days per week, starting tomorrow and consistently maintaining it by the first day of next month.”
Nicole Kerr, Nutritionist, co-author of “Eating the Rainbow,” www.nicolekerr.com
Drop the ‘diet’ mentality. “It doesn’t work. Look at the first three letters of the word; they spell ‘die’ and that is exactly what you are doing – dying to get back to eating what you really want. Quit buying the latest diet book hoping for a quick fix and look at overhauling your eating practices slowly so they become habits.”
Focus on one small change at a time. This works for the whole family. Start with beverages first. With sodas and juice drinks averaging 150 calories for 12 ounces, it’s so easy to pack on the pounds with these nutritional zeros. Are you drinking a can of juice a day? If so, go every other day, then one every two days. Just work on beverages for the entire month, then go on to the next nutritional issue and start slowly with it as well. For example, portion sizes. Keep your beverage habit up while incorporating this new one.”
Josh Humphrey, personal trainer, Northshore Workout
Keep it basic. “Most people don’t feel good about themselves after the holidays and they say they have to drop 50 pounds or get to a certain dress size by such a time and gotta do this and gotta do that and it becomes a chore.” They put too much pressure on themselves and that doesn’t work.
Find a workout buddy or hire a personal trainer. If you have someone waiting for you, you have to show up. It brings accountability with it. With a buddy, you can challenge each other. With a trainer, you’ve got somebody pushing you to improve.
Surround yourself with health-conscious people who will contribute to your new lifestyle. Have you ever noticed that heavier, out-of-shape people seem to hang out together – and eat together?
Consider your quality of life. “When writing your goals, think not just about how you look but in terms of, ‘I want to go on hikes with my grandchildren.'”
What you eat matters. “Diet is 80 percent of fitness, guaranteed. Instead of eating out, start cooking yourself and go to the store with a list of healthy foods to shop for.”
We’ve all heard it until we’re green in the face: Eat more vegetables. But, hey, it’s a tried-and-true way to better health.
Eat five small meals a day, rather than three large ones.
Patricia Haft, Creative Ftiness.
Divide your goals into daily and monthly goals.
A few examples of daily goals:
- I will try to stretch my body for at least 10 minutes a day.
- I will try to move my body for at least 20 minutes a day.
- I will try to take a “breath” or “meditation” break two times a day, where I sit quietly for at least five minutes and practice deep breathing.
An example of monthly goals:
- I will establish a consistent fitness regimen scheduled into my calendar and follow it as I would a business appointment. I will review it at then end of every month.
- I will schedule lunch as a daily appointment with myself or a friend so I always take a break.
- I will be mindful daily of how I treat my body and never berate myself for not having done well.
- I will find appropriate ways to congratulate myself on successes. For example, a bubble bath instead of a hot fudge sundae; a new pair of jeans instead of a big dinner at a fancy restaurant.
It is with sincerity and resolve that I wish you all the very best in 2015.
– Paula Rath