Nearly half of all Americans make New Year's resolutions, but only eight percent actually keep them. Whether it's to lose weight, get stronger, stop smoking or start saving, a vast majority of winter goals freeze up by February. So where are those 92 percent going wrong?
#1. Stop beating yourself up.
The road to weight loss and healthy living isn't always smooth. When you stumble on obstacles and find yourself stymied by setbacks, it can be easy to fall into the self-defeating trap.
#2. Achieve a specific goal.
Topping the list of most common New Year's resolutions are "to stay fit and healthy" and "to lose weight"—both admirable goals, but also quite vague. To boost their chances of success, trainer Cheryl Russo encourages her clients to narrow their focus on very specific, more attainable, goals.
#3. Make exercise a priority.
It's common knowledge that exercise helps you lose weight, but daily movement is important for everyone, not just those who want to slim down. Lorraine Miano, wellness coach with Infinite You, points out that one of the main reasons people go into assisted living is because they can't perform basic physical functions.
#4. Focus more on strength and mobility.
When making resolutions, it's natural to focus on the activity you perform most often. If you're a runner, you might resolve to run faster or longer, while a weight lifter's goal might be to increase their bench press by 50 pounds. Regardless of your choice of exercise, though, running coach Kyle Kranz encourages incorporating more strength and mobility training into your regimen.
#5. Stop dieting for good.
For thousands of people, New Year's Day marks the start of diet season. Ken Immer, president and chief culinary officer of Culinary Health Solutions, says this mindset isn't the best approach for weight loss or wellness. Instead, he recommends making a slow but steady lifestyle change.
#6. Make more time for family and fun.
Mental wellness, positivity and stress management are just as important to physical health as diet and exercise. Registered dietitian and wellness consultant Tricia Silverman encourages her clients to include more personally enriching goals, such as spending more time with family and friends, enjoying their hobbies and passions, or scheduling more downtime for relaxation. Silverman suggests writing down these resolutions and revisiting them throughout the year, or clipping pictures from magazines to display on a vision board.
#7. Commit to consistency.
Along with your resolutions to eat better, move more and stress less, consider adding one to be consistent in your healthy new behaviors. "If my clients could take all their new year's enthusiasm and channel that into a commitment to consistently engage in daily behaviors that will move them closer to their goals, they would be so much happier and reach their goals faster," says trainer and nutritionist Kristy Stabler. "When you focus on making changes you can live with every day for the rest of your life, you're on the right path. One small step forward every day will add up to huge results by next year."
#8. Focus on a single variable at a time.
Have you ever made a long list of resolutions to improve different areas of life, only to end up feeling overwhelmed and burned out by spring? Kelly sees a lot of clients begin a training program along with an extreme diet plan, and then sprinkle in additional workouts outside of their regular training, only to end up overtraining and abandoning the program.
#9. Cook more and plan meals ahead of time.
It's great that you want to eat healthier—but how will you do it? Brooke Taylor, trainer with Taylored Fitness, wishes more people would resolve to plan healthy meals ahead of time and then actually prepare them. Lack of time is a major hurdle for her New York City clients, who are always on the go and tend to gravitate toward the convenience of takeout.
#10. Show up for yourself.
How much time do you spend taking care of others versus tending to your own needs and desires? Liza Baker, nutritionist with Simply: Health Coaching, notices that most of her clients—particularly women—focus more on the activities, dreams and goals of their spouses and children than on their own endeavors. "Many of them are completely absent from their daily lives, except as someone who is there for everyone else," says Baker. "I wish they would make resolutions to set aside more time for themselves in their daily lives, in a bold way." This can be as simple as taking 30 minutes each day to spend time on your personal passion, whether it’s writing, gardening, painting or just reading a novel.
#11. Drink more water.
You already know the importance of staying hydrated, but it's tougher during the cold winter months when you don't feel as thirsty. "If you're working out, even in the winter, you're still using up fluids and need to replenish them," says Tricia Brouk, trainer with Brouk Moves. "Hydration helps to maintain the balance of the bodily fluids that help with circulation, absorption of nutrients and maintaining proper body temperature."
#12. Start journaling.
If fitness trainer Angelique Millis could make a New Year's resolution for her clients, it would be to track their exercise, nutrition and emotions in a journal from day one. She encourages them to start by setting strong intentions and goals for themselves, and then taking just five minutes each day to update their journals with their daily activity, food intake and, most importantly, their feelings about their fitness journeys. If you prefer a digital log, SparkPeople offers robust online tracking tools. Set up your own personal blog to start monitoring your mood and energy changes from the start of your journey all the way to your goal.
#13. Eat mindfully.One of the best ways to modulate how much you eat, and what you eat, is through mindful eating. "Being conscious of what—and why—you are eating allows you to get back in touch with the experience of enjoying your food," says registered dietitian Alissa Rumsey. "It also enables you to better listen to your feelings of hunger and fullness."
That doesn't mean you have to cut out snacking—just that you should snack smart. "If you do it properly, snacking can help keep blood sugar levels steady and your energy up," says Rumsey. She recommends skipping processed and packaged snack foods, which contain a lot of sugar, salt and additives. Instead, plan healthy snacks ahead of time, such as fresh or dried fruit, cheese, cut-up raw vegetables, nuts or nut butter, hard-boiled eggs, whole-grain crackers and hummus.
The mindfulness should extend to beverages as well. Tyler Spraul, trainer with Exercise.com, wishes his clients would cut out soft drinks, creamers, syrups and other drink additives. "You can even take it farther and go water only," he suggests. "It's a small change that can really make a difference over the long haul."
#14. Be grateful.
Spraul asks his clients to take 10 minutes each day to write down 10 things for which they're grateful. "This will remind you of how good you have it, help you focus on what's important and relieve some stress," he says. The more you appreciate and embrace the journey to health, the more likely you are to stick with it, sweat and all.
#15. Learn to love and appreciate food.
Mandy Enright, registered dietitian and creator of Nutrition Nuptials, counsels her clients to resist the urge to look at every meal or food item as "good" or "bad." Look for ways to embrace healthy foods as a way to treat and reward yourself for a job well done, rather than as a punishment. "Let 2017 be the year of learning to love food again!"
What resolutions will you be setting this year?
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