The new year has begun and goal setting and resolutions are upon us. The new year offers a time of reflection and retrospection. The new year offers a fresh start and a great opportunity to create a better life for us and those around us.
According to Forbes, for 2021, the “most popular New Year’s resolutions are about self-improvement (living healthier 23% of people, getting happy 21%, losing weight 20%, exercising 7%, stopping smoking 5%, reducing drinking 2%). In addition, people resolve to meet career or job goals (16%) and improve their relationships (11%).” Of those working out falls into three of those top goals (a whopping 50%).
According to FSU News, “on average, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February…it takes approximately 66 days for a habit to become automatic.”
So how do we combat this huge obstacle and make our resolution to be healthier happier people come true? Here are six steps I have taken to help me in the past and present.
Be Realistic: Do not set yourself up to fail. Be realistic in goal setting. If you have never worked out, it is highly unlikely you will work out six days a week an hour and a half. You likely won’t lose 50 lbs in three months. Set a goal that works for you. A good goal will be SMART. The more specific and measurable a goal, the better. Want more? Check out this blog on 10 goal setting steps to success
Set a routine: The hardest part of a resolution (or any goal), is to incorporate it into your already hectic routine. By creating a routine where your goal is a part of it, you are more likely to be able to attain your goals. According to Northwestern Medicine, routines are essential to a healthy lifestyle. Routines will help reduce stress, increase sleep, give better health, and set a good example for your children.
Get accountability/work out partner: Progress is never made alone. We need each other. Find a friend or partner in your goal. This will help increase serotonin when you work out or work on your goal because you will be doing it with a friend. This friend can also help keep you accountable on days you don’t want to work toward your goals (and we all know there will be those days). Exercising with a friend is just more fun and it helps build your friendship. By including an accountability partner, you are more likely to stick to your goals and succeed. You typically work harder when someone else is around (because they are watching you) and it brings out the competitive side and spurs you on. Working out with a friend can be cheaper by splitting the cost of the trainer/equipment. Your accountability partner may have new ideas to bring. And, it just safer – you want a spotter on those weights or someone to run those trails.
Track Progress: I have said it before and will say it again. Without a way to track the progress, you can get very discouraged – especially with weight loss. Muscle weighs more than fat, so that scale may climb before it falls. Have a way to track your progress toward your goal. I like this habit tracker for my goals. But, for weight loss goals, I find tracking with a picture to be more satisfying. It shows the way the body changes over time rather than a scale that just reflects gravity.
Eat Healthily: We all know we should eat healthily, but we typically do not. The words themselves just make it sound like salads and bland food or processed protein shakes for the rest of our lives. BORING! But, healthy food is the opposite! Eating healthy just means incorporating colors into your diet. Get away from processed foods and enjoy the great taste of vegetables and fruits. Don’t snack on chips, snack on berries. Don’t eat bread three meals a day. Replace at least two of those servings with veggies. Vegetables are so versatile you can have a different dish with a different flavor every night of the week for months. Limit the sugar and salt. Enjoy the garden God gave us. You will be surprised how good it all is!
Drink Water: This is probably the most simple and overlooked tip in getting a healthy habit started. Water is so beneficial to our bodies. It helps our bodies process every system. It helps our skin stay brighter. It helps us look younger. So, instead of that second cup of coffee, drink a glass of water. Have water before a meal, and you will eat less. Bored with water, add some flavor. I like to flavor mine with lemon, kiwi, mango, and other fruit flavors. Water doesn’t have to be boring.
Stretch: This one is often forgotten when people talk about working out. It is also often forgotten in most classes at the gym. If there is no stretch in the workout class, do one on your own. Research shows time and again, stretching is good for you. The Mayo Clinic provided stretching:
- Improve your performance in physical activities
- Decrease your risk of injuries
- Help your joints move through their full range of motion
- Enable your muscles to work most effectively
Research also shows stretching can relieve post-exercise aches and pains (we all hate day two of a workout routine), improve posture, and manage stress better. So take the time to stretch daily. This is a great way to help relax at the end of the day as well.
New Year’s Resolutions are great ways to get us towards goals. But they are only as good as the effort put in. If your goal is like half of America to live a healthier happier lifestyle, then try these six steps to ensure success.