Did you know that today is Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day? Yep, there is a national day to officially cut ourselves ourselves loose from resolutions that we have been unable to maintain.
This reveals a reality: Real, sustained change can be difficult.
Well intended New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight, exercise more and quit smoking are short-lived for a variety of reasons. Many set unrealistic goals that are nearly impossible to maintain. Others find they simply lack the mindset to stay committed to them. And for some, lack of support leads to the inevitable fizzle.
So if you find yourself having abandoned your well-intended goals to get healthy this year, here are some ways to rescue your resolutions.
Eat and Exercise Sensibly
I once knew someone who had achieved unbelievable weight loss by limiting herself to only 600 calories a day. Obviously, such self-deprivation was not sustainable. Her body was starving, and in a short time she gained back the weight she had lost. While this example may be extreme, some dieters feel the urge to cut way back on calories in an effort to create some dramatic early results. But if a person is a little too ambitious with cutting calories, they are setting themselves up for failure.
Calorie needs are determined by a person’s age, weight and activity level. For instance, a 40 year old woman that is 5’6″ tall and 130 lbs, and “lightly active,” can eat 1987 calories a day to maintain her weight. If she wants to lose 1 pound a week, she needs to cut that by about 500 calories a day to lose weight. Use a service like Livestrong.com to calculate your daily caloric needs and set a reasonable calorie deficit.
If your goal was to train for a marathon, and you just can’t find the time, then maybe you need to set a more realistic goal. And if you just aren’t a morning person, then expecting to go to the gym at 5am is probably not going to happen. Start by walking 30 minutes a day several times a week. This can be done in short intervals. Park further away from the office, squeeze in a 15-minute lunchtime walk before eating, and if you have stairs at home, use them – a lot. You’ll be surprised at how the steps and health benefits add up, and you will have more energy to do more.
Get Clear on Your Goal
Some are so used to setting those New Year’s Resolutions and then discarding them, that they never truly commit to them in the first place. So it may be time to examine intentions and get clear on what you really want – and what those changes will really mean. A desire to lose 10 pounds, for instance, is really about something more. Is it about wanting to be healthier and live longer to see your grandchildren grow up? Is it a desire to remove self-consciousness, and achieve greater success? Is it because you are just plain sick of wearing constricting undergarments? Whatever IT is, ask yourself why over and over until you get to the core of what it is that will motivate you to make the changes you desire. Then write it out on paper and post it on your bathroom mirror, computer monitor and refrigerator door.
Set Up for Success
If the goal is to lose weight, then having bags of potato chips in the pantry and tubs of Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer on Day 1 is not setting yourself up for success. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it sometimes needs restating. The kids do not need to have M&Ms in the house if you are only going to raid their stash. Getting healthy requires a plan and a supportive environment. So make the commitment to your resolution by cleaning out the pantry, fridge and freezer and ridding the house of unnecessary temptation. Make a basic meal plan for the week and stock up on vegetables for snacks. When you are hungry, you’ll be able to reach for a carrot instead of cake.
Getting emotional support is an essential part of setting up your environment for success. It can be a friend or relative that has similar goals, a health coach, or a program that offers mentoring, but by all means get the support you need. There will be days when you just don’t feel up to it. And there will be weeks when you don’t feel you have made any progress toward your goals. Acknowledge these times, and move on with the support of a person who cares about your success.
Really, New Year’s Resolutions are about committing to change and sticking with it. It can be done any time of year. So if you set some worthwhile goals for yourself (getting healthy is definitely worthwhile!) and have found yourself faltering, “ditch it” and make a new resolution after examining your plan, your motivation and your circumstances. Make some changes and renew your commitment to live and eat better.