From the Dietitian:
It’s January again, where did the time go? After all of the excesses of the holidays, a new calendar is like a clean slate, a “do-over” to fix our previous mistakes. About half of us make New Year’s resolutions; we want to lose weight, quit smoking, spend less or get fit or organized in the new year. One thing these goals have in common is that they are all related to our habits, the small actions we repeatedly do or don’t do that add up over time. For example, one can of soda is only 150 calories, you probably don’t even think about it. But, one soda every day can add up to an extra 15 pounds of body fat at the end of the year.
Changing your habits seems easy on January 1st, but by February or March, not so much. Life gets in the way and we abandon our goals for our old familiar patterns. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. With a little patience and planning, you can be your own success story.
Here are six tips to help you to succeed with whatever your New Year’s resolution:
- Make a specific plan for the journey, not just the destination. How can you get to where you want to go if you don’t have a map of how to get there? “I’m going to go to the gym 4 hours every week” is a lot easier to achieve than “I’m going to get fit”.
- Relying on willpower alone doesn’t work; stress or bad days will happen and you’ll be tempted to resume your comforting old habits. Keep a list of actions that you enjoy doing to replace the one you used to perform automatically. For example, when your boss stresses you out, walk around the building or call a friend rather than go out for a cigarette or to the break room for a donut.
- Don’t try to do everything at once. Break it down into small, achievable chunks to keep from getting discouraged. “I’m going to clean and organize everything” seems overwhelming compared to “This week, I’m going to clean out the bedroom closet”.
- Trying to be perfect 100% of the time is one of the main reasons we abandon our goals come February. Instead, try the 80/20 approach. If you’ve made good choices 80% of the time, pat yourself on the back, then work to gradually increase to 90%, then more. Knowing you have a treat planned for a bedtime snack can help you to avoid the cake on the buffet line at lunch.
- Keep your motivation going by making a list of why you are changing your habits. “I want to eat healthier so that my daughter won’t learn bad habits and have to struggle with her weight like I have.” “I want to save money so that I can travel in the future.” Keep this list handy to remind yourself often.
- Keep track of your small victories and reward yourself regularly. Small rewards can have great effects: a hot bath after going to the gym, a pedicure for 5 pounds lost, or a new video game for not smoking for two weeks. You’ll look forward to the prize when tempted to backslide. Just remember, you only get the reward for doing the action! If you don’t do it, you don’t get it!
"Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time." ~Mark Twain
We hope that these tips will take you a long way in your journey to become your own “after” picture and ditch the “before” picture for good.
Here’s to your success!