Do Your New Year's Resolutions Produce Results?

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
12/30/2008 1:26 PM   :  109 comments

I’ve never had much luck with making successful New Year's resolutions. Like many other people, I get off to a good start on the appointed day, but within a few days or weeks, I’ve pretty much given up and gone back to my old ways.

There is at least one local chocolate maker in my home town who is rooting for me to keep this pattern intact again this year.

On the other hand, though, I have been very successful at making and maintaining some important changes in my habits and my lifestyle. I’ve quit a 3-pack per day smoking habit (smoke free since 1983), and gone from drinking 2 six packs of beer per day to about 1 six pack per month. I lost about 170 pounds a few years ago, and have kept 140 of those pounds off since then. I’ve gone from being a confirmed couch potato to putting about 125 miles on my bicycle and hiking another 20-25 most weeks–and loving it.

So, I know I can make changes, including some pretty difficult ones. I just can’t stick to my New Year's resolutions. And I’m pretty sure I know why...


If I really want to change something, I’m not going to wait to get started until some special day in the future. I’m going to start right now. If I put if off, that’s usually a dead giveaway that I don’t want it enough to do what’s necessary to make it happen. For me, a "resolution" is second cousin to a rationalization or an excuse for procrastinating.

So this year I figure that, if I’m not willing or able to make a change starting right now, there’s not much sense in making a resolution about it. I don’t need another failure to feel bad about.

That said, though, there is something about ending one year and starting another that makes this seem like a good opportunity to take stock of where I am right now, where I want to be a year from now, and what I need to do to get there. I try to do this every year, and this year there are three goals that I want to accomplish in the coming year:

1. Expand my social life so it includes more flesh and blood people, not just internet wee-me’s, redwood trees and sand dunes. I’ve been living in my current home for 6 months now, and other than immediate family, a few familiar faces at the grocery store and a couple of hikers who frequent the same trails I do, I can sometimes go days without saying anything out loud to anyone. I’m noticing that this tends to diminish one’s social skills–not good for someone who’s already as peculiar as I am.

2. Improve my flexibility and range of motion before my arthritis leaves me stuck permanently in the position of hunching over a computer screen, and improve upper body strength so that I can perform at least one unassisted pull-up. Otherwise, I may not be able to open a new jar of peanut butter much longer--and that would be a real tragedy.

3. Get my portion control back on track. I’ve put on about 12 pounds just since the end of September, and it’s mostly because my 5-6 small meals have been rapidly mutating into 5-6 regular-sized meals (this may have something to do with a very strong urge to stop shaving and hibernate I've been feeling lately--stupid bear genes!). I've been eating mostly good healthy food–just too much of it. There’s no way I’ll ever be able to do a real pull-up at this weight, so I want to get my calorie intake back down to maintenance level for 215 pounds.

None of these good intentions has much chance of becoming reality without a solid plan for making them happen, so here’s what I’m planning to do:

  • Go to the gym 3 days per week to take a yoga class and do an upper-body strength workout with the assisted pull-up/dip machine. I haven’t been to the gym much or to a class since I took up hiking and biking a couple years ago, so I’m also going to count this as part of my new social activity. I figure that if I can get myself to stick with a yoga class full of people who look good in spandex and can actually bend, without dying of embarrassment, I’ll be half-way there on dealing with my social issues.

  • Join a book-reading “salon” that meets weekly to discuss what people are reading. I’ve found one that has an interesting book list for the coming year.

  • Start measuring portions and tracking all my meals again for a while, to make sure I’m keeping my total calories where they need to be to lose 15 pounds over the next 6 months.

    But I'm not going to wait until the 1st to start--I'm starting today.

    What kind of luck have you had with New Year's resolutions–do you stick with them, or lose steam pretty quickly?

    What are your goals and strategies for this coming year? Are you willing to start working on them today, to see if that gives you the boost you need to keep going?




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    Comments

    • SHAN09
      109
      I have finally decided on some resolutions:

      ~I want to be thrilled and feel alive and awake!
      ~I want to sit at the centre of my life and love what I’m experiencing around me.
      ~I want to re-learn joy and real connection more than I want to check something off my list. (although I still want to find stable and reliable employment!)
      ~I want to feel authentic and whole more than I want to please other people.

      Thanks Hunter Phoenix for making me realize that most of my goals were object focused (my list was a stream of “shoulds” and “to-dos”) instead of me focused! ☺♥˚◦☼&
      #9702;˚♥☺ - 1/4/2013   1:44:23 PM
    • 108
      It is important to set goals and make resolutions but for me having the "plan" to accomplish those goals along with the accountability is what makes it all work. And SparkPeople helps me along the way with those goals - 2/5/2011   12:07:27 PM
    • 107
      New Year's resolutions are my way of recommiting to healthy lifestyle after the indulgences of the holiday season. I always figure I'm lucky to keep up minimal healthy habits between Thanksgiving and New Years. This year I'm trying to do a 'monthly checkup' the first week of each month to recommit and review the resolutions I made January 1. - 2/10/2009   8:16:36 AM
    • 106
      I think it is important to make resolutions. Each person needs to make their attainable.
      If you make a resolution to start working out a hour a day but have never worked out before your going to make it to hard on your self. Start small.

      Besides trying and failing is still better than not trying at all. - 1/4/2009   12:59:15 PM
    • 63STEPH
      105
      I have lost 25 lbs in 2008 and my new years resolution is to be 135 or less in 2009 - 1/3/2009   5:01:24 PM
    • LEZLY19
      104
      I guess I can Honestly say I've never had any luck with resoulutions cause I have never made any. If I set any goals they are usually un realistic so If I'm gonna do something I Just do it and don't have to worry about letting myself get down about not accomplishing what I had planned. I wish i was a planner but i'm just not! - 1/3/2009   3:06:43 PM
    • 103
      I really enjoyed reading your blog Dean, and the subsequent blogs it generated. It made me think of one of my teachers this past spring. He was very much about goals and writing them down. Putting in writing what you wish to accomplish, helps to solidify what it truly is that you want to do, it makes you accountable, and if you review your goals on a regular basis; you not only able to keep yourself motivated, but track your progress, and modify your goals if they have become unreasonable, outdated or unattainable. My teacher actually reviews his goals on a daily basis. I have never been able to do that (yet), but it does make a lot of sense. It makes sure you are working on the goals that really are important to you, and if you are reviewing your goals daily (with a positive viewpoint) then how could you not be inspired? - 1/2/2009   11:14:58 PM
    • 102
      I gave up making New Year's Resolutions. I'd always manage to find a way to break them.

      I do much better with short term goals. I've met all the short term goals I've made for myself. So, no more resolutions for me.

      - 1/2/2009   9:37:31 AM
    • 101
      I make resolutions all the time,i just don't keep them;maybe this year will be different. - 1/2/2009   7:37:48 AM
    • CALAMITIJANE
      100
      i have decided that i am going to loose weight and be healthier this year. i don't usually set New Year resolutions, but i don't want to put it off just because it is New Year's. - 1/1/2009   8:18:59 PM
    • 99
      Coach Dean:) You have come a long way and have a lot to be proud of in terms of achievements. I am not the one for resolutions any more considering my health is not in my control any more. I take one day at a time and am learning to accept what is in my plate for the day with gratitude! - 1/1/2009   5:33:29 PM
    • 98
      I'm with you about starting when I think of it, rather than waiting. I'd hate to be considered a NYR newbie at the gym this week! Good going with the yoga class -- really the BEST! (and I don't yet look good in spandex) - 1/1/2009   1:56:20 PM
    • 97
      I had planned not to waste the effort of making resolutions only to be broken as they only have before, but changed my mind just before 2008 came to an end. I thought I'd the have a high, by my standards, protein intake daily. That is a true undertaking since I am a newcomer to the kitchen let alone one who seldom eats meats, although that is not by choice.
      Then upon reading the blog above I think I should add a second resolution concerning my social life. Mine certainly is similar to hers! That was brought out even more to my attention last night when out at a ritzy place for NewYear's dinner. I was dressed nicely, but not as "socially acceptable" as most. - 1/1/2009   1:37:00 PM
    • 96
      My 08 NYR was to lose 20 lbs. On Jan 1 2008 I weighed 194 lbs, on Dec 31 2008 I weighed 170. Booyah. - 1/1/2009   11:30:16 AM
    • 95
      Good Blog.
      You have made some amazingly positive changes in your life over the years. Great job Coach Dean!
      I have made only 1 New Years resolution and that is to not stress over the little obstacles life throws in my way. Just to roll with it.
      It won't be easy but I am going to make that my resolution this year.
      - 1/1/2009   9:07:30 AM
    • 94
      Love your style of mixing serious thoughts with a touch of humor! Good luck! - 1/1/2009   7:50:38 AM
    • 93
      I love to read your blogs and articles...they always manage to say some serious things and yet leave the the reader with a giggle or chuckle. I'd say you do very well with your non-verbal communications...I suppose it might be more challenging to come out of your den and "talk" to real people...so that is probably a great goal for you and some of us others with the "bear genes". Thanks so much and have a Great Year.!! - 1/1/2009   2:09:28 AM
    • 92
      Happy New Year. Let's shine in 2009. - 1/1/2009   1:48:52 AM
    • 91
      I don't believe in NY resolutions, I prefer to grow up through insights at any time of the year.
      Claudia - 1/1/2009   12:27:05 AM
    • 90
      Jan 1, 2008, I made a resolution to finally stop the insanity, and lose the weight I had been complaining about and feeling miserable about once and for all. I joined SP on Jan 4, and to date have lost 50 pounds. So, it worked for me. This Jan 1, I resolve to finish the job and lose these last 20 pounds,,,ONCE AND FOR ALL!!! - 12/31/2008   10:01:00 PM
    • 89
      "For me, a "resolution" is second cousin to a rationalization or an excuse for procrastinating." - Good sentence!

      My resolution is the same as every year: This year, I resolve not to make any resolutions! I can feel like a failure easy enough w/o starting the year waiting to see when I'm gonna fail next!

      Happy New Year, Everyone!
      - 12/31/2008   8:04:25 PM
    • 88
      I gave up trying to make resolutions years ago as most years by Feb I had forgotton them. Now I just keep working on my goals, and I have to say I love SP as this site has been the best thing I ever found to keep me on track. - 12/31/2008   6:19:25 PM
    • 87
      One of my goals is to try something new at least once a month. I am looking at the crossfit. Another goal is to work towards improving myself either spiritually, mentally or physically. - 12/31/2008   6:11:08 PM
    • 86
      I love the process of reviewing the past year and thinking about what the new year will bring - and what I want to make happen in it. Too many people make "resolutions" that are really just wishes. But you can make them goals and make them happen just like you would any other goal. For me it is a time to refine the goals I have made throughout the year; to mark what I have accomplished (wow I CAN do a forward bend!) and to set out the next step (get my head to my knee in a seated stretch).
      Thanks, coach, for your honesty and I wish you all the best in meeting your goals. Make it a great 2009 everyone! - 12/31/2008   4:41:30 PM
    • 85
      Resolutions have never worked for me, but GOALS have. I have my own business, and my team and I make goal posters every six months for our business. So I will do the same thing for my weight to come off. I love everyones comments...thanks so very much for sharing. - 12/31/2008   4:32:58 PM
    • THEMANSLAYER
      84
      Yeah. I need to improve my posture too. Congrats on quitting smoking. I wish my husband would! lol. - 12/31/2008   4:26:55 PM
    • 83
      I have not generally been a resolution maker, but this year I'm resolving to lose an average of one pound per month and keep that off permanently. I know it's not very much, but I lost faster before, and my skin ended up hanging in nasty wrinkles. I'm hoping this slow method may allow my skin to adjust better. We'll see. - 12/31/2008   4:07:23 PM
    • COOLBEAN61
      82
      I don't even make resolutions anymore! That is my resolution not to make resolutions! - 12/31/2008   3:45:17 PM
    • 81
      Coach, I think you're on to something with the resolution to expand your social network. I know it was hard for us when we moved here nine years ago. We still don't know some of our neighbors. That's kinda dumb.

      We've always networked through music and church groups. We don't do a lot of dinner-party type socializing, mostly because I'm such a lousy housekeeper, so having company usually involves a two-day cleaning marathon, and who's up for that?

      I also belong to TOPS, so I get my weekly flesh-and-blood diet support from them. I would like to find some exercise buddies, though. - 12/31/2008   2:06:12 PM
    • 80
      I don't make new years resolutions, but when I make up my mind to do something, I usually do it. - 12/31/2008   1:43:53 PM
    • ILENEJ
      79
      I usually don't make them. This year I'm going to try to loose at least 4 pounds every month and walk more. - 12/31/2008   1:27:52 PM
    • 78
      I don't make resolutions.. I have never stuck with them so why.. I have been on sparks for the past almost 4 months and have lost close to 25 lbs so good so far..
      I set my goals and for me it's the best - 12/31/2008   12:36:47 PM
    • DOLLYB1
      77
      I don't generally make New Year Resolutions because in the past, I always broke them & that made me feel like a failure - which I'm not!

      But reading your article here has given me pause for thought! The reason I broke my resolutions was because I didn't work at them hard enough! Perhaps by writing them down, plus how to achieve them, would help me keep them!!

      Thanks Coach Dean, as usual - you came through & helped someone again!
      Happy New Year! I know you'll keep your resolutions & you'll lose the weight you recently put on!! - 12/31/2008   11:56:58 AM
    • 76
      I don't really do resolutions, but I do find that de-cluttering my home helps me to focus on what I really need to do to improve my life in general. In other words, a de-cluttered home helps to produce a de-cluttered mind, which allows me to focus properly on the most important things to me... - 12/31/2008   11:44:31 AM
    • 75
      I set goals that are do able and completely within my control. It makes it easier to keep them.
      My Goals for this year: have less debt at the end of the year than at the beginning and organize my house. Progress not perfection is the goal. Less stress is the ultimate goal. - 12/31/2008   11:41:16 AM
    • 74
      Ah, the confessions of a coach! Sounds good!

      I don't really make resolutions either. What I do is think about my life and when there is something that is not working, I try to figure out the problem from all angles and make an informed decision. Once that decision is made, I go through with what is needed for the change. Only once in a blue moon have I had to modify due to circumstances that I didn't foresee! And I do tend to be somewhat obsessive-compulsive, which helps!!! - 12/31/2008   11:16:33 AM
    • 73
      Reaching your New Years Resolution goals can be really tough depending on how realistic the goals are. One has to be practical in making them; ie. losing 30 pounds by the 1st of February, how about a pound a week instead. It is all about your goal and how to maintain it. Good luck everyone, I know I will need it. - 12/31/2008   11:14:14 AM
    • 72
      Dean I agree with you 100%. I make my "resolutions" throughout the year and get started on them now instead of waiting for a specific date or event. To me Jan 1 is just another day, nothing magic about it. - 12/31/2008   10:57:33 AM
    • 71
      I totally agree with the Now not later thoughts. Last year my friends decided to choose a word to focus our intentions on - mine was self-love and it really worked.
      I am going to continue that, I have been tightening up on my food since this fall has been a series of terrible distractions and I am working on decluttering and organizing my home - I have already started that this week.
      In self-love I want a healthy body and beautiful/peaceful environment. - 12/31/2008   10:57:32 AM
    • CINNIEMAY
      70
      I do make about 50% of them. This year I am shooting for a better average! - 12/31/2008   10:31:01 AM
    • 69
      My 2008 resolutions were made on January 11th when I joined the Spark People site & they were met with success!! In 2009, I plan to continue my 2008 resolution of eating healthier & exercising more!!! - 12/31/2008   10:21:05 AM
    • 68
      I don't do New Years, but I do use New Year's Day for recollection, to see how my progress in x,y,z (whatever) has been over the year. It's my accounting time, not having a gazillion people reading my blogs to help me stay accountable!
      Great blog, Coach. Happy New Year. - 12/31/2008   9:56:32 AM
    • 67
      Hmm, I hear ya on the tendency to hibernate ... I'm doing great with the exercise, but not so well on the getting the vocal chords moving. :) Maybe I'll put that one on MY intentions, too! :)

      I totally agree about not waiting until New Year's - even if it's only ONE day away! :)

      Happy New Year, Coach, and all of SP!
      - 12/31/2008   9:49:05 AM
    • 66
      Stupid bear genes.... LOVE IT ! - 12/31/2008   9:28:39 AM
    • 65
      Great words to consider. New Year's resolutions add such pressure. If you come up with a "great list" of things to do, they aren't necessarily things you're ready or willing to do. So, naturally, you fail and then wait until next year to resolve something else new. Also, resolutions without a plan isn't too practical. It's like going on a trip without a map. I am going to sit down today and plot out my realistic goals for the new year. Most of which will consist of continuting on the journey I started in Sept of this year. - 12/31/2008   8:31:20 AM
    • 64
      I've never kept my resolutions in the past and my "start tomorrow" never seems to get here. I did lose 35# since June but that was with ALOT of cheating. This year I need to be kinder to ME, and not treat my body like a garbage can or one of those garbage bags you can keep "stuffing" things into. As a nurse, wife and mom I take care of everyone else and see to thier needs. It's time for me to see to mine now. - 12/31/2008   8:28:06 AM
    • 63
      I love reading your blogs - they are fun, but always with some truth that we sometimes don't like to face - thank you for sharing! - 12/31/2008   8:17:34 AM
    • DEDEEW
      62
      i love it!
      got clean from all drugs in late january '95; quit smoking cigarettes (a really disgusting habit) in mid May'05; joined a gym and have worked out regularly since August '04...
      in order to make resolutions you have to have a plan...
      didn't you read the blog here recently?
      i want to do man push ups...i have done at least 5 in the past year...i want to do 25...i have to practice EVERY DAY!
      i want to continue to work on my balance...i have to practice squats on the bosu...daily
      i want to master the body step class at my gym...i complete the class...but at the low level...in order to do this...i must attend the class as much as possible.


      - 12/31/2008   8:03:00 AM
    • 61
      It's been a few years since I've made resolutions that begin with the new year. I suppose it's because since I've suffered severe illness, survived hurrican Katrina, and passed half a century of life, I am more aware of my own mortality and realize that if something is worthwhile, I'd best do it now. Tomorrow may be too late. - 12/31/2008   7:47:58 AM
    • 60
      Up until last year I had never made resolutions... I always felt they were a way of letting yourself down when you don't follow through... but last year I did resolve to quit smoking and get healthy all the way around. On January 1 2008 I quit smoking and have not had a cig sense... I did gain 40 pounds in 5 months while doing so... In May 2008 I joined SP! I have lost the 40 pounds I gained, learned valuable life lessons and made many great friends. I still have 25-30 pounds to lose and will do that in 2009 as I am continuing on with my healthy life. My hubby has decided that my resolution work out so well for me that he is going to resolve to get healthy this coming year as well (he too never made resolutions). So I guess what I am saying is ... Make them or don't make them... when you are truely ready to make the changes in your life, whether they are on January 1 or not... you will make the changes. I was ready! - 12/31/2008   7:18:31 AM

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