With the holidays behind us and a new year to look forward to, many Americans will make health resolutions for 2022. According to U.S. News & World Report, 60% of us make New Year’s resolutions and 80% of them fail by February. Dieting and exercising top the annual list of changes we intend to make in the new year, but these goals historically fall by the wayside in a short time.
According to the American Psychological Association, the key to making your resolutions stick is to keep them realistic.
“Don’t make items on your bucket list into resolutions,” Dr. Judy Kuriansky, renowned clinical psychologist and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to a Heathy Relationship, tells Newsmax. “You may want to run a marathon, but that’s a huge undertaking if you haven’t exercised before and totally unrealistic. Break your resolutions down to smaller, more attainable goals.”
The Access Community Health Network recommends pushing through those moments of doubt when the resolutions seem challenging, and avoid being too hard on yourself for any missteps. The first tip is to make your resolution SMART:
• Specific. Keep your goal well-defined
• Measurable. Make sure you can measure your progress towards you goal.
• Achievable. Pick goals that are realistic.
• Relevant. Your resolutions should be relevant to your lifestyle and what you personally hope to achieve.
• Timely. Set a deadline for your goal.
Next, develop and plan with plenty of support from family and friends. If you want to start improving your diet, research healthy foods and make a list so that you stock the refrigerator and pantry with better choices. Dr. Gabe Mirkin, author of The Healthy Heart Miracle tells Newsmax that it’s important to switch to anti-inflammatory foods for overall mental, physical, and emotional health. “Avoid all fried, overly processed and sugary foods,” he says. “Instead consume vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, beans and oily fish.”
Mirkin, an avid cycler, recommends starting an exercise program that you enjoy, adding that you should always check with your healthcare professional to ensure your cardiovascular system is healthy. “Pick any sport or activity that uses continuous motion such a walking, running, dancing, swimming or biking,” he says. “Start out at a relaxed pace even if you only exercise for a few minutes daily. Increase the amount of time gradually until you can exercise 30 minutes a day.”
Avoid past mistakes. According to the Access Community Health Network, if you embarked upon a diet and fitness program in the past and failed, try to figure out what went wrong and how you can avoid that trap this year. If you find that going solo doesn’t work for you, enlist the support of a workout buddy who wants to share your path.
Don’t give up. Life often gets in the way of our best laid plans. If you do slip up and scarf down that jelly doughnut in a stressful moment, cut yourself some slack and plan a better stress-busting strategy for the future. Many experts recommend taking a walk, practicing deep breathing, or listening to your favorite music to diffuse stress-induced eating.
Reward yourself. Celebrate each milestone with a special treat such as a foot massage, new workout clothes or other positive reinforcements that help keep you on your path. It’s also important to track your progress on your smartphone or in a journal so that you can see the improvement and compare notes with your healthcare professional.
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