Well, here we go again. New Year’s. The topic of resolutions is flooding websites, talk shows and magazines right now, with everyone discussing what they want to change and how they’re going to do it. But, as you’ve doubtlessly read in myriad pessimistic articles, the vast majority of resolutions fail. In fact, the official statistics claim that only 8 percent of people actually follow through on their resolutions. And, since most resolutions have to do with health and fitness, this is of particular interest to us. What follows, then, are some basic tips you can use to keep your New Year’s Resolution.
1. Set Good Goals –
The primary downfall of resolutions is that are simply not well-planned goals. As we’ve discussed in previous posts, the American Council on Exercise likes the S.M.A.R.T acronym for proper goal design. This means that good goals must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
So, simply saying “I’m going to lose weight,” doesn’t pass the test. While it is absolutely measurable and attainable, none of the other criteria is satisfied. A much better goal would be “I’m going to lose 5 pounds in a month.” This meets all the requirements to be a SMART goal.
2. Get Quality Advice –
The is an incredible amount of just plain bad advice available to you. It’s everywhere. For example, last week we covered a recent study that exposed the startling amount of false information being spread by means of popular and trusted medical TV talk shows. Often, it’s well-meant. But, perhaps just as often, it’s intended to sell you something. Either way, it’s important to be picky when deciding who to listen to. Not only could following faulty advice impede your progress, it could even serious harm to your health.
If you decide to work with a trainer, don’t be afraid to ask about their credentials since it’s very common for people to work as personal trainers with no education or certification in the field. When it comes to diet advice, though, even more caution is necessary. Everyone has an opinion on what constitutes a “healthy” diet and what works for them may not work for you. For accurate personalized dietary advice, seek out a registered dietician.
Whether its a trainer or a dietician, having a trained professional on your side can be a huge motivation for you to stick to keep your New Year’s Resolution – especially if you’re paying them.
3. Think Long-Term –
Another issue, closely related to the SMART requirements discussed earlier, is that many New Year’s Resolutions are last minute, emotional decisions. There’s no planning behind them, nothing to support them and no real, lasting neurological connection to them. And, while that last bit might sound a little ridiculous, consider this: Healthy eating and exercise are habits. Behind the scenes, habits are nothing but reinforced thinking patterns that form new neural pathways. After about 18 to 21 days of repeating a behavior, these new patterns become hardwired into your brain and form habits.
Keeping your resolution, then, is a matter of sticking to it for close to a month and retraining the way that your brain functions. This requires discipline and planning.