Having trouble sticking to that New Year’s Resolution? Don’t beat yourself up. 45 percent of Americans make a resolution, but only about 8 percent are successful in achieving their goals.
Why are success rates so low? It could be your resolution is too sweeping. Among the top resolutions cataloged by statisticbrain.com are “Working Out More Often,” “Losing weight and Eating Healthy,” “Quitting Smoking,” and “Making Self Improvements.”
Resolutions that are tangible and realistic are much more likely to stick. If you simply vow to lose 30 pounds in 2018, without any specific roadmap to get there, you will likely become discouraged by March, when the scale shows you have only lost three pounds.
So what are some healthy, achievable resolutions that you can start anytime in 2018?
Here are just a few:
- Reduce the amount of “junk” food in your diet. Let’s face it; we have just come off a string of holiday celebrations, where health food is rarely on the menu. So, vowing to eat salad every day, and swear off brie, fries and ice cream is a recipe for failure. It’s more realistic to resolve to reduce the amount of fat, sugar and starches that you consume. Try eliminating one ‘unhealthy’ food and replacing it with a healthier one--perhaps a crisp apple instead of potato chips for your afternoon snack. After a week, try adding another healthy substitution— like a handful of almonds while you’re watching TV, in place of the M&Ms. These gradual changes are easy if you plan ahead a bit, so the ‘healthy’ choices are already at hand.
- Quitting smoking? Seek support. One of the best ways to kick the smoking habit and keep it kicked is by having a strong support system. Tell your family and friends you’re quitting so they can help you out along the way. More importantly, ask for support from your friends who still smoke. Ask them to stop smoking around you and that they smoke outdoors when you’re around. The New York State Smokers’ Quitline also has a listing of support groups near you if you need additional help. Log on to www.nysmokefree.com or call 1-866-NY-QUITS for more information.
- Take a walk. If you’re not a gym rat, an elite athlete or an avid hiker, don’t worry. Hitting the pavement, or trail, for 10-15 minutes at lunchtime, for example, can clear your mind and help reduce stress. It may not promote major weight loss, but the release of endorphins in your brain will make you feel better, and even encourage you to add more time. Best of all, a daily brisk walk can help you live a healthier life by helping you maintain a healthy weight, prevent or manage various conditions, like heart disease or high blood pressure, and strengthen your bones and muscles. (Mayo Clinic)
- Get more sleep. One third of Americans don’t get enough. While some people suffer from sleep disorders that require treatment (like sleep apnea), many of us can improve our quality of sleep by changing a few lifestyle behaviors. Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. If you take naps, limit the length of those early afternoon naps to 15-20 minutes. Avoid bright screens (TV, smartphones, tablets, computers) within one to two hours of your bedtime, and limit your intake of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the hours close to bedtime.
So, if you didn’t make any resolutions for 2018, or, if you have already ditched the ones you did make, you can make a new, more realistic start. Anytime.
Happy New Year!
-- Carol Vartuli