Each year, as Jan. 1 approaches and we gaze in the mirror at the after effects of the holidays … dark circles under our eyes, too many cookies and an over-abundance of cocktail parties, we set our sights on resolutions. We vow that “this time” we are going to do it! However, the statistics show that over 80 percent of us who set New Year’s resolutions will fail. This year, don’t be among the 80 percent. This year, set your New Year’s goal so that you can and will attain it.
The top three reasons New Year’s resolutions fail:
1. You were over-zealous with your resolutions and what you could conceivably accomplish.
2. You didn’t write your goals down on paper or tell anyone.
3. You got discouraged when you didn’t see immediate results.
The top three resolutions:
1. Lose weight
Often, these goals go hand-in-hand: we resolve to lose weight, begin an exercise program, and live a stress-free life. Taking on any one of these goals is challenging, but to tackle all three of them at once, in the dead of winter’s dreary, dark days, is a set up for failure. Add to this the fact that most of our goals are unreasonable, i.e. losing 10 lbs a week; exercising every day for an hour when you haven’t exercised since high school; never eating dessert or fast food again; sleeping eight hours a night when you typically get five hours of sleep. Can you see how failure is imminent? The goals are over-zealous in the time frame that we want to see results.
This year, do something different with making your resolutions:
1. Choose one resolution.
2. Set small, simple and attainable goals.
3. Change your goals along the way.
Choose one resolution. If you decide your resolution is to lose weight through changing your eating habits, don’t think of it as a “diet.” That four-letter word brings with it thoughts of deprivation, inevitably setting you up for failure because you can’t live the rest of your life without dessert or fast food! “Diets” also mean counting calories and weighing in, neither of which is enjoyable and can be very time-consuming. Instead, keep it simple: Strive to eat a majority of your food as unprocessed as possible. For instance, an apple is unprocessed. Applesauce with sugar, cinnamon flavor and red food coloring turns this unprocessed apple into a processed food. All you have to think about each time you eat something is ‘how far away is it from its natural state’ and make a valiant effort to eat as unprocessed as possible. No need to count calories or step on the dreaded scale. If this goal is too high to achieve on a daily basis, change it and eat as unprocessed as possible three days a week.
If your resolution is to begin an exercise program, be realistic and simple. There is no need to join a gym or buy expensive exercise equipment. In past years, you joined the gym, exercised one hour every day, and became exhausted or injured. After a few weeks, you stopped going to the gym but still paid for the membership. This year, make it simple. Set small, attainable goals for the first month and slowly increase your goal. For instance, vow to exercise 10 minutes a day at home before work (or after work). If you need a list of exercises to do at home without equipment or with a few inexpensive weights or bands, Google it or send me an email and I will give you ideas to get started. If three days a week was too much for you, exercise two days a week. After a month or two of slowly building up your exercise time, you might decide to set a new goal to join a gym or buy a treadmill to use at home.
Maybe the resolution you need the most is to de-stress your life. Don’t we all need this? Start simple and progress as you attain each goal. If you know you get stressed because you are sleep deprived and you need eight hours of sleep a night, resolve to sleep an extra 15 minutes a night for the first few weeks instead of tackling the lofty goal of saying, “I’m going to sleep eight hours every night, starting tonight.” If that means you have to start by adding an extra five minutes of sleep to begin, so be it. Eventually, step by slow step, you will reach your ultimate goal of getting eight hours of sleep a night.
No matter which small, attainable, simple goal you set, be patient with seeing results. You didn’t get into “this” situation overnight and it will take more than overnight to see results. Take comfort in knowing the changes you make are slowly but surely doing great things for your body and mind. This year, do something different. … don’t be one of the 80 percent!•
Sharon McGoff is a graduate of Indiana University Maurer School of Law, a certified personal trainer and health fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine, and a certified life and wellness coach with WellCoaches, Inc. She welcomes your questions or comments at Smcgoff@comcast.net. The opinions expressed are those of the author.