Posts Tagged ‘quit smoking’

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!

The Right Way to Make Resolutions

People put a lot of pressure on the transformative powers of the New Year and its ability to change them into a better version of themselves. Inevitably willpower wanes and the pressures of life come into play, and the reality is that change is hard. I’m not trying to say resolutions are a waste of time; in fact they can be great motivators when approached correctly. Avoid making sweeping lifestyle changes all at once, and you’ll be more likely to stick to your resolutions this year.

If your resolution is to be healthier in the New Year, you need to decide what that means to you. Do you need to start an exercise program, change your eating habits, quit smoking or all of the above? Attack your “get healthy” resolution with baby steps. People often fail to stick to their resolutions because of the simple fact that it is hard to deprive yourself of things you enjoy. The solution is to make small, incremental changes so it doesn’t feel like your life is miserable all of a sudden. Being realistic is important to success as well. If you never workout, don’t make a resolution to go to the gym every day for an hour. Instead, meet a friend and go for a bike ride or walk 4 or 5 times a week, or join a gym with the goal of going 3 times a week for 30 minutes. As you get used to the commitment, you can slowly ramp up your workouts and time.

If your “get healthy” resolution involves eating better, small changes are best. Going cold turkey on all of the foods you enjoy will make you more likely to give up after a week. Try switching out your normal breakfast for oatmeal or eggs and have a salad with grilled chicken for lunch a few times a week instead of getting fast food. Choose smaller portion sizes of your favorite foods or choose single-serving sizes of treats to help with portion control. Understanding how many calories are in the foods you eat and exactly how much physical activity you have to do to offset the caloric load can help you bypass temptation. Before you know it, you’ll stop craving the unhealthy choices and actually look forward to healthier fare.

Most importantly, be patient with yourself and accept that you are going to slip up every now and then. Pick rewards that motivate you—new clothes when you lose the weight, a vacation when you give up smoking—whatever it is that will inspire you to make the change you wish to see in yourself. Happy 2016!

New Year, Same You–Only Better

Composite image of this year i am going to

If you’re like most people, you spent the holidays overindulging and are looking ahead to the New Year as a chance to return to (or perhaps begin) healthy habits. Having a game plan going into the New Year can help you hit the ground running—pun intended—so read on for tips to make lasting changes that you’ll be celebrating come next New Year’s Eve.

While the symbolic meaning of starting over as a new year begins can be motivating, this time of year also presents its own challenges that can hinder even the most resolute among us. If you aspire to workout more, make a plan for those days when the weather isn’t cooperating. Too cold temperatures or rain can make it easy to forego your daily run or walk, so have a few dvds on hand or YouTube a free circuit workout and forget your excuses. Most gyms offer great pricing specials to reel in new members, so consider joining one (preferably with a friend and a location on the way to or from work) if you haven’t had success with previous attempts with at-home workouts.  Colds, the flu and other nasty viruses can also derail your plans to eat healthy and workout. One of the most important things to remember about setting goals is to accept that you will not be perfect 100% of the time. Acknowledging there will be slip-ups and challenges along the way will keep you from throwing in the towel when your resolutions have to take a backseat for a few days. So you can’t cook at home or workout as much as you’d like because of family or work obligations or because you are nursing an illness. Just do the best you can—only eat half of your entrée at dinner, do squats and lunges for 5 minutes before bed, or be ok with going for a bike ride instead of your favorite spin class.

The best resolutions are specific and realistic. Don’t just say you want to lose weight or eat healthier. Aim to lose 5 lbs each month for the next 6 months, set a workout goal of 3 times a week (2 cardio sessions and one weight training) or cook at home and bring leftovers to work 4 days a week. Tell everyone you know about your goals so they can help hold you accountable. Even better, start a weight loss challenge at work or form a running group to train for a 5k. Knowing people are counting on you (or competing against you!) can be a terrific motivator.

Lastly, consider bringing in a professional. A personal trainer can help you develop challenging workouts you love and has the benefit of built-in accountability. A professional organizer can help you declutter your closets and de-stress your life. Cooking classes can teach you how to prepare healthier home-cooked meals. A doctor may be able to help you kick your cigarette habit. You get the idea.

Make this the year you stick to your resolutions. Do something different from what you’ve done in the past if it hasn’t worked for you. And don’t give up!

Healthy Living: Tips for Baby Boomers

laughing-senior-couple

Longer life spans mean that anyone who reaches age 65 will likely live into their mid 80’s. If you fall into this category, you might be wondering what you can do to make sure those extra years bring extra joy to your life, not chronic illness and health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making the following lifestyle changes can keep you healthier, longer:

  • Age appropriate screenings & vaccinations (colon, mammography, flu, pneumonia, etc)
  • Physical activity, both cardiovascular and strength training (find recommendations on type and amounts here)
  • Quit smoking
  • Eat more fruits and veggies (5 or more servings a day)
  • Treat high blood pressure

For more information on healthy living for aging baby boomers, visit the CDC’s Aging and Health website.

Realistic Resolutions Get Results!

If you are already falling off the resolution wagon, chances are you need to look at why you are having trouble keeping your resolutions rather than viewing yourself as a failure. The tips below can help get you back on track.

So what is the key to sticking with your New Year’s resolutions? Set specific, realistic goals and don’t try to overhaul your entire life at once. If you are a couch potato, don’t set yourself up for failure by pledging to work out for an hour everyday. Set small goals, like walking or biking 3 times a week or losing 10 lbs in two months. Reaching your goals will help keep you motivated for the long run. It is also important to find out which type of physical activity you enjoy. Don’t join a gym if it isn’t conveniently located on your way to or from work (or if you are too unsure of yourself to step foot in one!). Do take group fitness classes if you find you aren’t motivated enough to walk/run/bike/do a workout DVD at home by yourself. Trying a lot of different activities will keep you from getting bored and challenge your body in different ways. Ask a friend who is already fit or who is looking to get in shape to join you for a morning walk or jog a few times a week.

If your resolution is to eat healthier, try incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet rather than forbidding certain foods. If you tell yourself you can’t have chocolate or chips, you are going to crave those foods even more. Instead try to fill up before breakfast with a fruit and veggie smoothie, vegetable soup or an apple as part of lunch, and a small green salad before dinner. You might find you aren’t as hungry for the more unhealthy options, or, at the very least, you will be less likely to overindulge once you’ve filled up on fruits or veggies. When you crave dessert, make sure you opt for something with built in portion control such as a pudding cup, frozen fudge bar or snack sized bags of chips.

Timing is important to helping healthy habits stick. If you are in the middle of a major life change, such as a career change or relocation, now might not be the time to make huge modifications to your every day routine. Also, accept that you are human and are going to slip up—and it’s ok! The most important thing is to get back to healthy eating or exercise or not smoking right away. A slip isn’t a free pass back to your days of unhealthy living. Keep your resolutions realistic, your goals manageable, and your attitude positive, and you will see the results you want!