Posts Tagged ‘accountability’

How to Make Resolutions That Really Stick

At the start of every new year, people feel inspired to make changes in their lives. For some, it may be a smoking habit they want to kick; for others, weight loss may be at the top of their list. Maybe you want to use the new year to motivate yourself to start that business you’ve been dreaming of or perhaps your goal is to spend more time with family. Regardless of what personal or professional change you are aiming for, how you go about setting your goals and measuring your milestones can have everything to do with how likely you are to succeed. Read on for tips on how to stick with your resolutions this year.

  1. Be Realistic: Maybe your doctor has told you to lose weight or perhaps you’d rather give healthy eating and exercise a shot before committing to a lifetime of prescription drugs to manage high blood pressure or cholesterol. The key to any big lifestyle change is to make it doable. If you never work out, pledging to hit the gym 6 days a week is an unrealistic goal. Instead, commit to going to the gym 3 times a week, and then add in a long bike ride or walk on your “off” days. Try out a class you’ve never taken before, you just might find you enjoy it. Whatever exercise you choose, make sure it is mainly activities that you enjoy, or you won’t be excited to do them. This same logic applies to eating healthier—don’t go cold turkey on all of your favorite foods at once. You will feel deprived and will be more likely to binge. Start by having oatmeal for breakfast 3 times a week, a salad for lunch 3 times a week and meatless meals a few times a week. Cut back on your portion sizes and you can still enjoy the foods you love. As your new lifestyle becomes a habit, add in more healthy meals or longer or harder workouts.
  2. Hold Yourself Accountable: Find a friend who has the same resolution as you. When your alarm goes off early on a cold winter morning, the last thing you want to do is get out of bed to workout. If you know someone is going to be counting on you to meet them at the gym or in the neighborhood for a walk, you’ll be less likely to skip it. Online support groups are everywhere and can offer encouragement and a place to ask questions and raise concerns as you work through whatever personal journey you are on towards a better you.
  3. Reward Yourself: Celebrate your successes, no matter how small! If you made it to the gym a few times this week, reward yourself with positive thoughts and encouragement. Non-food rewards make sense when you are trying to be healthier or lose weight. When you lose 20 lbs you might treat yourself to a new workout outfit or pair of running shoes. If you’ve made healthy food swaps for a few weeks and are shedding a some pounds, have friends over to showcase your healthy cooking or reward yourself with a new cookbook or magazine subscription to Cooking Light. Equally important to rewarding yourself is forgiving yourself when you slip up. It is unrealistic (there’s that word again!) to think that you will exercise or eat healthy or give up smoking without any lapses in behavior. The key is to acknowledge that you’ve experienced a setback (notice I didn’t say failed!) and that it isn’t helping you get to where you want to be as a person. Try to figure out what triggered the lapse and plan for how you can deal with it differently in the future. Stressful day at work? Take a walk as soon as you get home or hit the gym on the way home to relieve stress instead of having a cigarette or binging on junk food. Planning ahead for bad days is key, and sometimes just accepting that you really want that chocolate ice cream but will only have a small scoop is ok too!

Fresh Start

New Year's Resolutions written on a note pad.

Regardless of whether you are sad or relieved to see 2016 go, the New Year is nearly upon us. And after a month and a half of over indulging and skipping workouts due to a jam-packed social calendar, January offers a great time to slow down and regroup. Making resolutions is a tradition that many people embrace as a way to kickstart healthy habits or accomplish goals they’ve lost sight of. Resolutions can either be an effective tool for positive self-change or something you later beat yourself up about. Make your resolutions stick this year by following these helpful suggestions:

  • Set realistic goals and timelines. You didn’t develop your bad habits overnight and it is unrealistic to assume you can break yourself of them in the course of a few weeks. Persistence and patience are necessary to succeed.
  • Find an accountability partner. Whether it’s your spouse, best friend or just someone from the gym who’s also looking to drop a few pounds, having someone to share your struggles and successes with can help keep you on track.
  • Don’t let a slip up or setback completely derail your progress. You are human and will make mistakes. The best thing you can do is to learn from them and move on with more knowledge and willpower. Try to identify any triggers—a stressful day at work, a busy schedule with little time to cook healthy meals or exercise—and come up with a game plan to overcome these obstacles. Maybe you have to prep your meals or make and freeze them on the weekends, or you have to fit in two shorter workouts a day (15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening) instead of one longer workout. Be flexible and creative when it comes to reaching your goals and you will be successful!