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Don't Call it a Resolution

A look at common health realted resolutions and the better way to go about achieving them in 2012.

Most New Year’s Resolutions fail. Sorry to deflate your ego with a bit of reality. The premise behind making a promise to improve yourself is great in theory. But, year after year you probably find yourself setting a similar goal only to find yourself “breaking the rules” one month later.

Part of the problem with New Year’s resolutions is most folks don’t set realistic, definitive, or attainable goals, making failure inevitable. You can promise yourself to quit smoking, but what does that mean? Instead, your resolution should be to cut your habit from five a day to three or less a day. Or even better, join a bi-weekly smoker’s support group where you have accountability to actually quit.

And of course we have all the resolutions surrounding the scale and appearance. Common goals include, “eat healthier,” “lose weight,” “get fit,” or “join a gym.” But those broad statements aren’t really a resolution. Sure, it’s a great starting point to identify what you want to change. Now, take that a step further and create a plan of action around it. 

If you want to eat healthier, decide what that means to you. Are you going to have a green vegetable every day? Maybe you’re going to limit your sugar intake? Eating healthier can entail one dinner out per week or cutting back on soda and junk food. You can even make a whole list of ways you can eat healthy, and number them by importance to you. Migrate your way through the list throughout the year, slowly checking each one off. You have a better chance of making long lasting changes if you are specific and take your time.

Losing weight is another popular resolution. But making it attainable is the key to making it successful. It’s safe to say, you aren’t going to drop 50 pounds in three months. Even dropping that much weight in a year can be difficult. Instead, set a weekly or monthly weight goal. Half a pound a week or two pounds a month sounds modest, but they are achievable. Knowing you are successful week in and week out, will keep you motivated to losing weight. If this is your resolution, you need a comprehensive plan on how you’re going to get it done. Weight loss comes from (1) eating less, (2) moving more or (3) a combination of both. Choose the path that best fits your lifestyle and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.

And what about if 2012 is your year to get fit or join a gym? You are going to need to be a lot more specific than that. How are you going to get fit? How many times a week are you pledging to go to the gym? Does being fit mean you can do 20 pull ups, or do you want to be able to walk up the stairs without losing your breath? Sit down and write down what “getting fit” looks like to you. Then come up with a step-by-step plan to make that happen by the end of 2012. For example, if running a race is your equivalent to “getting fit,” you need to realize you can’t run a half marathon until you buy running shoes, start walking, increase the mileage, pick up the pace, change the intensity, train for different terrains, and choose a race.  

Finally, no matter what your resolution try to enlist the help of someone to hold you accountable. It can be a spouse, friend, co-worker or health professional. True, it might be a humbling experience to have someone check up on you; at times you may even feel like someone is babysitting you. But it’s easy to fail when you have no one to answer to. The great thing about today’s culture is you can find this person or even group of people online. There are forums, websites and blogs all dedicated to health goals and how to achieve them. You might even pick up some extra motivation and ideas by reading about others accomplishments.   

Good health in 2012 starts with good planning. Don’t even call it a resolution. Use this time to focus on yourself, what you want to change, and creating a plan of action to make it happen.

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