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Finding balance as you plan your New Year’s resolutions is important. You want to challenge yourself to do enough to make a difference, but not so much that you can’t follow through.
The month of January just wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t make some resolutions for the New Year. Most of us go through the motions every year, promising ourselves that this time we’re going to eat better, or lose weight or get into shape. Trouble is, we tend to start out strong but then the old habits creep back in––often in a matter of weeks.
Part of the problem is that many of us approach New Year’s resolutions as a sprint, rather than a marathon. We set our sights on making a lot of changes all at once, and plunge ourselves into a makeover that we can’t sustain. Rather than a quick sprint to the finish line, though, your resolutions are something you’ll need to practice steadily––for days, weeks, months…for the long haul.
If you want your New Year’s resolutions to stick with you all year long, slow and steady will win the race. Here are some tips to help you.
In order to change bad habits and replace them with healthier ones, you first need to reflect on your current behavior. For instance, if you know that you eat more than you should, it can be helpful to both acknowledge that you overeat and, at the same time, allow yourself to be a little “fed up” with your behavior, too.
The first step in keeping a resolution is to make sure it’s reasonable in the first place. That’s a lot better than setting unrealistic goals and giving up right out of the starting gate.
When you put your resolutions into words, make them as specific as you can. It’s great to say that you want to “eat less fat,” but that’s too vague. Instead, you might set a measurable goal to “limit my fat intake to 40 grams a day.”
If your list of resolutions is fairly long, you might want to prioritize them and tackle a few of the easier ones first. This can help to give you the confidence that you can, in fact, achieve what you’ve set out to do. But if you feel that you’re trying to make too many changes at once, you might need to trim your list a little bit.
Once you’ve decided what your resolutions are, write them down. Putting your challenges and plans in writing will help you commit to them.
Once you’ve made your commitments, you’ll need to plan for how you can put your new habits into practice. If you’re working on your eating habits, have you cleared all the junk food out of the house? If you’re planning to cook more meals at home, do you have the right foods in your refrigerator, pantry and freezer?
Be patient––it takes a while for new habits to settle in and feel natural and comfortable. Keep track of the “measurables” that you included in your resolutions––such as your calorie or fat intake, the number of fruit and vegetable servings you’ve had, or the number of times per week that you packed a healthy lunch instead of eating out.
Rather than letting setbacks defeat you, try to learn from them. Try to figure out what led you to slip up, and figure out how you can prevent it from happening next time.
If you’ve made behavior changes in the past that have stayed with you, maybe you can build on that success by tweaking your resolution a little bit. And don’t forget to reward yourself for your successes and acknowledge your accomplishments.
Friends, family members and online communities can be tremendous sources of support. So, let those around you know what you intend to achieve. And when you offer support to others who need it, it may help you in your own efforts, too.