Well, here it is again. The beginning of a new year. If you’re like most of us, you’ve spent the last several weeks telling yourself that the holiday season is not the time to be dieting or spending two hours at the gym every day.
The holiday season is the time to be enjoying friends, family, and life in general, and if that also involves enjoying maybe a few more cookies than usual, so be it. You can get back to “being good” in January.
So now that it’s January, what’s your plan for getting back on track?
At CHI Mercy Health, we’re not big on New Year’s resolutions, not when we know that about 90 percent of people who make a resolution related to healthier living will fail to keep it. We think there are better ways to go about making changes that will actually last. Here are six steps to making healthy lifestyle changes that will increase your odds of success.
Set a goal
First, determine what you want to achieve. Pick a goal and tie it to something meaningful. If your goal is to lose 10 pounds, you’ll have a better chance of success if your motivation is to improve your overall health rather than to fit into some of your clothes that might have become a little too snug.
Make a plan
And make it SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based). Define what you want to do and when you want to achieve it. Break down your goal into smaller, achievable steps. Change takes time. If you work toward your goal gradually, you’ll be able to achieve success early on which will motivate you to continue making progress.
If you can anticipate potential barriers to success, you can plan for ways to overcome them. If late-night sweets are a weakness, make sure you have plenty of fruit on hand to help you forget about that cheesecake you may be craving. If you’re too tired to exercise at the end of the day, plan your workout for the morning or lunch hour.
Track you progress
Keep a daily or weekly record of your progress so you can record your success and make note of any changes you may need to make if you veer of course.
Find a partner
Working toward your goal with a family member or friend who is similarly motivated provides you with both support and accountability. It’s harder to skip that workout or morning walk if your partner is counting on you.
Stick with it
We all have setbacks, but if you realize that and don’t get frustrated by any you encounter, you can get back on track toward the changes you are hoping to make.