How do you stick to your New Year’s resolutions? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
The holidays are barely over, and here you are thinking about letting that resolution sli-i-i-i-i-de. Don’t give up hope. Here’s some advice to keep you on track for a healthier, happier year.
First off, good for you for wanting to start the new year on the right foot. Whether you want to lose weight, exercise more or eat better, setting the intention to do so is the first step.
The next step? Making it stick. Unfortunately, the “doing it” part is almost always harder than the “wanting to do it” part. You can take comfort in knowing that 80 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions are already off track by the first week of February.
So, how can you join those successful 20 percenters?
Do you want to lose some vague amount of weight? Or do you want to lose 10 or 20 pounds? Without a clear goal in mind, you’ll never be able to achieve it. Here are some of the best health resolutions to make.
Take baby steps.
If your resolution is a lofty one — say, hitting the gym five days a week when you’ve been a couch potato for the past 12 months — you may be setting yourself up for failure, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). A better and more achievable goal is to start small by aiming to work out twice a week in January, building up to three times a week in February and so on.
Rose Taroyan, MD, assistant professor of clinical family medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a primary care physician at Keck Medicine of USC, suggests doing 30 minutes of daily activity and gradually working your way up. Dr. Taroyan says you can split these up into three 10-minute activities, such as walking the dog or doing yard work, as well as tying exercise to rewards, such as watching TV while on the treadmill.
In addition, she says, “Eating healthy is all about setting a dietary pattern to follow which becomes part of daily regimen. Add more fresh fruits and vegetables; limit sweets, sugar and saturated fats; cook at home; and eat smaller portions.”
Find out five resolutions that may be better for your health than going on a diet.
Focus on one thing at a time.
Let’s say you made a bunch of resolutions: You want to eat better, exercise three times a week and stop biting your nails. There’s a good chance they will prove to be too much to handle all at once.
While some resolutions go hand-in-hand, such as eating better and losing weight, trying to fix every habit at the same time can prove impossible, says the APA. It’s better to pick your one main goal for now. You can always stop biting your nails in June.
Enlist friends and family.
You don’t need to make a major Facebook announcement that you’re determined to lose 20 pounds this year, but you should let a few trusted friends and close family members know that you’re serious about your goal — and ask for support. Perhaps your neighbor is game for morning walks once or twice a week, and your spouse can promise not to bring cookies or cake home from the store.
Ask for support.
If, even with your friends and family on board, you’re still finding it challenging to stay on track, consider joining a group of like-minded people (such as Weight Watchers or a weight-loss group at a hospital). It can be helpful to share your struggles and successes with like-minded people.
Cut yourself some slack.
If you didn’t make it to the gym twice this week or you gave into your craving for that brownie, don’t beat yourself up. You’re only human, and no one is perfect. Instead, remind yourself that you’ll do better at your next meal or make it back to the gym tomorrow. The important thing is not to let one slip-up derail your entire year. You’ve got this!