Top 10 Tips to Unbreakable Resolutions

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Top 10 Tips to Unbreakable Resolutions

Written by Melinda Hershey, Health Educator

How many years have you enthusiastically made New Year's resolutions to change your health and your life, only to watch them fizzle out weeks (or days) later? Chances are, you've been there or know someone who has. But how do you break the cycle? Is it possible to actually follow through with your New Year's resolutions? Absolutely! Here are 10 smart strategies to make this year different.


Be Specific

Like many people, you might be thinking of broad, life-changing goals to work toward in the new year. But it's important to clarify those goals so you know exactly what you're trying to achieve. For example, look at the difference between these two statements:

''I resolve to lose weight and get healthy this year.''

versus

''I resolve to lose 30 pounds by next Thanksgiving. I will accomplish this by exercising four days a week while staying within my given calorie range. I will measure my health by getting my blood checked every six months.''

Which statement is more powerful and clear? By specifying your goals, you will make it easier to achieve them. Get as specific as you'd like to help clarify your action plan for yourself.


Track Your Goals

One of the best ways to stick with a New Year's resolution (or any other goal) is to consistently monitor your progress. It can be easy to let your good intentions fall by the wayside when life gets busy--and before you know it, a few slip-ups can lead to you falling off the wagon for good.

Tracking your goal will always keep it at the forefront of your mind, which will help you make better decisions on a day-to-day basis. SparkPeople's nutrition and fitness trackers are great tools to help you stay accountable. Or, use a wall calendar and put a star or a sticker on each day that you reach your goal. This is a great visual reminder of your resolution, and it will allow you to see patterns in your habits.


Choose a Focus

You might be tempted to kick off January with a fresh list of resolutions for the year ahead. But if you load yourself down with a lot of new changes at once, you'll likely become overwhelmed and will be unlikely to stick with them.

Instead, focus on just one or two areas that you would most like to improve on. This will allow you to devote your full attention to your goals without stressing yourself out too much. After a few months, as your lifestyle changes become more automatic, you can try taking on a few additional goals.

Be Realistic

While choosing your goal of focus, be honest with yourself about whether it will be attainable for you. It's good to dream big, but if your goal is too big, you run the risk of throwing in the towel when you don't live up to your own expectations.

Choose a goal that's challenging, but doable. If necessary, break it up into smaller, more manageable chunks. For example, if you want to lose 50 pounds, split it up into 5- or 10-pound increments, and reward yourself every time you reach one of the smaller benchmarks.

Prioritize and Plan

In order to reach big milestones, you will have to shuffle around your life a little (or a lot!) to accommodate for new changes. This might mean making some tough decisions, like forgoing your favorite TV show to go for a run, or cooking a healthy meal instead of swinging by the drive-through. When setting your new goal, make sure that you are 100% willing to make it a priority in your busy life.

At the end of each week, make an action plan for the week ahead. When you prepare healthy meals and write out your workout schedule ahead of time, it makes it easy for you to make the healthy choice--and your old habits and unhealthy priorities won't be so tempting.

Try Positivity

Do your goals include the words STOP, QUIT, NO, or NEVER? If so, you may be setting yourself up for failure. After all, if you tell yourself that you can't have something, you will only tend to want it more, which could eventually lead you to fall off the wagon.

Instead of subtracting your ''bad'' habits, try creating goals that add healthy changes to your life. For example, instead of resolving to quit eating sugar, make a goal to eat more fruit. Instead of making a goal to eat less fast food, resolve to pack your lunch on most days of the week. By framing your goal in a more positive light, you'll be setting yourself up for success.

Visualize Your Goals

Setting and reaching big resolutions is largely mental. A simple, yet powerful tool to prepare your mind to reach your goals is through visualization. Studies have shown that when we imagine ourselves reaching a goal, it increases the odds that it will actually happen.

So, take a few moments each week to close your eyes and really focus on your resolution. What will you feel like in the exact moment when you reach that goal? What will it look like? Experience it in your mind and set out to make it happen in reality. You can also hang up visual cues around your home or office to help keep you motivated and inspired.

Find a Support System

Having people to support you makes a world of difference when you're working to reach an important goal in your life. Don't be shy about sharing your goals with your friends and loved ones--they are there to help! Sometimes, even just a small word of encouragement from someone you care about can turn around a bad day. You can also find like-minded friends to support you with SparkPeople's ''Find a Buddy'' feature.

Anticipate Slip-Ups

Are you someone who will scold yourself for eating one slice of pizza—and then eat the whole pie since you've already ''failed'' for the day? Nobody's perfect, so why hold yourself to unreachable standards? When you start working toward a new goal, you may have a tendency to think in terms of ''all or nothing.'' It's easy to deal in absolutes when we're trying to reach an important goal, but it doesn't have to be that way.

The best thing to do is to accept that you will mess up eventually. Once you give yourself permission to make small slip-ups and move on from them, you won't self-sabotage yourself so much anymore—and will ultimately make more progress.

Revisit and Revise

A lot can change in a year—or even in a month! Sometimes, the goals you set for yourself become irrelevant to you and your changing needs. Every few weeks, check in to see how things are going with your goals. Are you happy with your progress? Do you need to change your approach? Give yourself permission to change your goals, if needed; don't feel chained to them if they're no longer serving a purpose for you.

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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ROEYAB

1/1/2016 2:39:04 PM

Great, supportive comments. Blessings on everyone. We can achieve anything that we set out to do. :)

TZUZEN

1/1/2016 12:39:00 PM

TZUZEN's SparkPage
I haven't made any resolutions this year.

Self-kindness is hard. Thinking if I "kick myself in the butt" will make me do something is a clear road for failure. If kicking myself in the butt (or asking someone else to do it) worked, then we would all be thin, rich, pretty, whatnot.

It's taken me practice to get to the point where I realize cruelty towards myself does not work. I find ways to eat foods faster and I hide stuff faster.

Accepting where I am is extremely important.

I like the phrase - knowing and doing aren't the same thing. The idea that slip ups are going to happen. Trying to make "emotional eating" go away just sets me up for failure. We all eat for different reasons - not just for survival.

If I was "rewarded" for being good with sweet treats or get certain yummy treats during the holidays, I will want to eat sweets when I feel down. A lot of this is driven without our knowledge - the desire to have the cookie at the coffee shop when you want to "behave". Or the dessert cart at the restaurant when you've eaten a pleasant meal that is reasonable.

I would add "self-kindness. It may take a long time until you'll believe that you mean it yet it did finally happen for me when I practiced it - fake it, til I make it.

If you are making resolutions, add some self-kindness.

ZUMEWING

1/1/2016 10:58:26 AM

I believe change is possible :) and today is a start! Health is worth working toward. I am IN to live a healthy life and enjoy this existence !!

LEANLEIGH

1/1/2016 10:28:23 AM

LEANLEIGH's SparkPage
New Year! New Opportunity!.

ZOBAND

1/1/2016 10:22:10 AM

ZOBAND's SparkPage
My new year resolution is to be present in the moment and enjoy every minute of what I do when I do it!

JULAYBUTLER

1/1/2016 9:07:17 AM

JULAYBUTLER's SparkPage
I make your New Year's resolutions and then challenge myself to how many I can keep

MARY10IN5

1/1/2016 3:57:38 AM

MARY10IN5's SparkPage
I actually use my SparkPage to write down all my life goals. When I reach one, I document it. Now there's a whole long list of things I've accomplished that gives me the confidence to reach even bigger goals! It really helps!

ITISMYTIME15

1/1/2016 2:31:35 AM

ITISMYTIME15's SparkPage
I have a list of goals I want to accomplish this year and am loving the idea of writing it down.

BOOGASNANA

1/1/2015 5:59:01 PM

I have resolved to get closer to God this year by reading my Bible at least twice a week with my husband and also to eat healthier dinners by buying mostly nutritious foods but moderation is the key from what I'm told so I won't say that we will cut out all chips, brownies, etc. just eat them in moderation.

PANYCAKE1

1/1/2015 4:25:13 PM

I'm positive this is the year!!!

JSTETSER

1/1/2015 6:10:03 AM

JSTETSER's SparkPage
This is not that different from writing IEP goals for students!

BANNERMAN

1/22/2014 7:49:49 PM

Thanks for sharing

FROMTHISPOINT

1/21/2014 1:55:42 PM

I have changed so many areas since deciding to get fit that I can feel a binge right around the corner. I have to remember to come here for some support should that happen.

CLEVERSEA

1/21/2014 12:51:48 PM

CLEVERSEA's SparkPage
I think SP should practice what they preach with the positive goals. Every time I see the Food You Should Never Eat Again articles, I crave chicken fingers.

SBDUNN24

1/21/2014 7:38:27 AM

I have been taking baby steps and focusing on eating right and exercising everyday.

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