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It’s that time of year again: the start of a brand new year. After dusting off the confetti and placing those champagne flute back into the crystal cabinet you see the guilty reminders: that dusty exercise bike you resolved to use three years ago, the sneakers you purchased last year with every intention of joining the silver sneakers classes at your local gym, that journal you planned to write in, the healthy cookbook you meant to use, or the wide brimmed hat you purchased so you could spend more time outside. Friend, if you’ve ever failed at an overreaching new year’s resolution, you are not alone. According to U.S. News, approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February. Long term motivation is a struggle for many of us, and many resolutions fail simply because they are out of character for us. If you’ve never gone for a run it’s just not realistic to resolve to run several miles per week. Don’t write off resolutions altogether, but remember that in order to build healthy habits we must be both realistic and intentional.
Don’t commit to “eating healthier”. Do commit to a specific healthy choice like skipping dessert a certain number of times per week. Excessive sugar consumption may lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and other chronic illnesses. Add fruit to your grocery list as a substitute for sugary, calorie-laden desserts.
Don’t commit to “getting in shape”. Do commit to exercise 10 minutes per day. Write it on your calendar or put a daily alert in your phone. Work it into your regular routine. If you watch the news or a specific show every day, commit to exercise during every commercial break: walk laps around your couch, stretch and breathe deeply, jog in place, whatever your body currently allows you to do. Little commitments are easier to manage. Ten minutes a day might start to feel insufficient, and you’ll find yourself seeking out more time for exercise. Commit to starting where you are now, and see where it takes you.
Don’t commit to “being more social”. Do commit to making one phone call or writing one email/letter per week to a friend. Studies have shown that people with lasting friendships live longer and experience better overall health. Do commit to seeing your children, grandchildren, or other family members a few times per month. Schedule it and then write it on your calendar and set reminders.
Don’t commit to “more activities”. Do commit to revisiting a particular hobby, or learning a specific new skill. If you used to sketch, dance, build model airplanes, etc, find time to do that again. Have you always longed to capture beautiful photos? Sign up for a weekly class to learn. Don’t forget the fun parts of life. A wise friend once said to me, “We all have to grow old but we don’t have to grow up.”
So, should you even attempt to make a resolution this year? The answer is still a resounding, “Yes!” Create a realistic plan and then set yourself up for success with small steps that you can follow through with.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.