Chances are you've made losing weight or getting healthy your New Year's resolution — or part of it — at least one time in your life. And if you're like the majority of Americans, you start out strong on that goal, but by February, the steam is running out. You're not alone: 80 percent of people fail by February, and by March it's like, "What resolution?"
I've suffered that fate many times, but I still love the idea of making a New Year's resolution, and I'm determined to get it right in practice. That's why this year I'm focusing on making it for the long haul.
Typically, in the past, I have made a superficial resolution, like losing 10 pounds. To do that I've gone on sugar detoxes, smoothie cleanses, and Paleo diets to no avail. While I've had some short-term success, it has rarely carried over into a sustainable habit, and rarely have I reached my goal of 10 pounds. This year, though, will be different, because I've discovered the secret that I think will work for me.
Set the Bar Low
This year I'm not focusing on the quick fix to drop the extra holiday weight, but that's not to say I don't have high expectations for myself. Nutritionist Veronica Cardon agrees and advises that to be successful, start with short-term goals, spread out.
"Don't start with an overly ambitious goal such as 'I will lose 20 pounds in three months.' It's better to set up small-step objectives that make the milestones achievable and realistic, such as 'I will lose two pounds a month,'" Cardon says.
In order to achieve those goals, I'm starting by mapping out specific things I'll do each month. In January, I'm starting with giving up the creamer in my coffee and committing to making it to the gym three times a week.
Health coach Marcey Rader suggests mini habits throughout the year in order to create lasting habits that will help you achieve your resolution.
"In January, I'll increase my meditation by two minutes per day, and in February, I'll only get sugar in my coffee on weekends," Rader says. "In March, I'll stretch every day or do five Sun Salutations as an end to my workday and transition to personal time."
Rader also says this helps to keep us from feeling like we failed when we don't see immediate results or face a setback.
"It also helps to know it's only for a short time (30 days), which by then may have become a habit," Rader says. "If the habit doesn't work out, because maybe it's not as beneficial as we thought, we gave it the 30-day college try and can move on."
To keep yourself accountable, it's also a good idea to set reminders to stay on track. It's easy to get distracted and forget your goals, which is where you can use technology to your advantage. I'm starting by setting daily reminders for myself on my cell phone and planning my workout schedule ahead of time. I notice when I see the reminder, I'm more likely to feel compelled to stick to it. I'm also going to journal at the end of every week, tracking my progress (or lack thereof).
Here's to another year of setting resolutions . . . and this year, sticking to them!