As January 1 approaches, many people will start making their New Year’s resolutions and trying to figure out a way to make each last more than just a week or two. Some of the more popular resolutions concern losing weight and exercise.
But there is some encouraging news that suggests those who actually make a resolution are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t make any at all.
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 40 to 45 percent of American adults make one or more resolutions each year. Of those, 75 percent make it past the first week. The percentage goes down to 71 percent after two weeks and 64 percent after one month. Sadly, the number plummets to less than 50 percent after six months.
Though the study showed that many people tend to make resolutions just so they can break them, those who actually had a resolution considered themselves to be more successful.
With that in mind, however, there are some things you can do to improve the chances that your resolution will actually last beyond the first month.
1. Make a Plan. Let’s face it, when it comes to diet and exercise, everyone needs to have a plan in place BEFORE January 1 rolls around so as not to let old habits linger from the year before. Sit down and be specific about what you are going to change about your diet and daily routine. If necessary, research a nutrition site online or go to the library and read up on a diet you’ve been meaning to try but don’t know much about. For example, if you aren’t a fan of a certain type of food then a diet that is based on eating a lot of that food obviously won’t work for you so be sure you know what you are getting into before you dive head in.
2. Be Realistic. We have all heard stories about people who quit smoking by throwing the pack out of the car window or lost all the weight they wanted in a month but the reality is those cases are rare and can sometimes even be dangerous. When you are setting your weight-loss and exercise goals, be realistic about what you can and can’t commit to every day. Like if you work a full-time job and have family commitments, it probably isn’t realistic for you to say you are going to go to the gym twice a day every day to workout. Set up a schedule where you go three or four times a week maybe and see how it fits into your routine. You may find you can handle one more day or you may find that it’s too much to keep up. The bottom line is the plan has to work for you or you will give up on it because it’s too hard to manage.
When it comes to how many pounds you want to shed, set a total amount but break it up into smaller, more attainable goals. If you know you need to lose 100 pounds, for example, set a 30-, 60- and 90-day number you want to be at so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming.
3. Find an Accountability Partner. Having someone to keep you on track is another way to stay motivated. Sadly, it’s easy for all of us to get caught up with negative thoughts and an accountabilty partner can get you through those dark times.
This person doesn’t necessarily have to work out with you – though it helps – but you want to make sure it’s someone you trust to tell it like it is and not just go along with what you are feeling in order to be a good friend. Remember, you need that extra push sometimes.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Succeed. It sounds ridiculous but there is actually as much a fear of success as there is of failure so be ready to experience an emotional roller coaster when you start shedding the pounds and/or getting a rock-hard body. For some people who spend a majority of their life overweight and out of shape, there is a certain protective quality about being unnoticed but as you start to lose weight, people recognize that and you are no longer invisible to them. That recognition can be overwhelming and hard to deal with but don’t let it stop you from continuing on your journey.
5. Get Plenty of Sleep. Countless studies have shown that poor sleeping habits can actually have a negative effect on weight loss so make sure you are getting at least 7 hours each night. Especially when you are working out, your body needs time to recover and regenerate for the next day so if you aren’t giving it time to do that, you may start feeling worse than you did before. “No pain, no gain” is a myth.
Whatever resolution you make, be sure to remember why you made it in the first place. Try not to lose sight of that as you make your way toward a healthier 2013.