Page 1 of 3As December comes to a close, people all over the globe are preparing for New Year's festivities and chatting with friends about their goals and dreams for the coming year. I have to admit that I have a love-hate relationship with New Year's resolutions. While a commitment to a change can be a great way to jump-start your healthy lifestyle, sometimes people are so brazen about boasting their goals that detailed plans and effective strategies for reaching them can get glossed over.
Below is a list of the most common New Year's resolutions that are almost destined to be dumped by early February. Are you guilty of setting vague and ineffective resolutions like these? Don't worry: We'll show you how to create goals that will motivate you to succeed long after the confetti has fallen.
Resolution #1: I will completely cut out [insert unhealthy vice here]!
After a holiday season of excessive indulgence, many people decide to quit smoking cold turkey, swear off alcohol altogether, or ban all sweets forever. How many times have you said, "If I never see another Christmas cookie/hot toddy/pumpkin pie, it will be too soon"? While it can initially feel empowering to "just say no" to unhealthy habits, parting ways with a longtime vice is likely to leave you feeling deprived and desperate in the long run. Some research shows that swearing off certain foods actually makes you think about them more and feel powerless in their presence!
Resolution Revamp: Forget about nixing your caffeine, nicotine or sugar fix for good. Instead, set a goal to add something healthy to your daily routine. When you're trying to boost wellness, behavior science has proven that it is much easier to increase a healthy new behavior than to get rid of an old one. So a better goal than banning soda might be to focus on drinking eight cups of water every day. Or, if you feel powerless around sugar, rather than focusing on avoiding the office candy jar, you could plan to add an extra serving of fresh fruit to your lunch box. Adding healthy habits will give you a reason to pat yourself on the back (instead of punishing yourself for those guilty pleasures). And once you start to meet your new targets and build momentum, you'll be surprised how quickly those unhealthy behaviors will start to fall away.
Resolution #2: I will reach my goal weight by this summer!
Maybe you didn't overindulge this season, but you're still struggling with some unhappy thoughts about your current weight, dress size or body shape. Losing weight is the number one New Year's resolution. But, if you go about setting your weight loss goals the wrong way, you're likely to quit or—even worse—gain it all back and then some! The problem with a resolution to simply "lose weight" is that the results are too far off to keep you motivated.
Resolution Revamp: Instead of setting a goal to shed pounds, set more specific goals that account for all of the other small, measurable achievements you'll reach along the way. Skip the scale and find measures besides body weight and clothing size to track your progress. Whether you count salad lunches per week, pull-ups per minute, time on the stationary bike, or heart rate on your morning hike, monitoring other metrics can help you realize that losing weight isn't the only benefit for your focus on nutrition and exercise. And because your stats for muscular strength, endurance and cardiovascular fitness tend to improve more quickly than the number on the scale, you'll be able to boast about your results in no time (and losing weight will be a bonus by-product for your efforts). Continued ›