Want to Achieve Your Resolutions? You May Find Success by Taking It Back a Notch
Achieving your New Year’s resolutions is not an easy feat. If it were, exercising more, losing weight and saving money wouldn’t appear on the top 10 list of resolutions year after year.
This is not to say you shouldn’t try to make positive changes in your life. Sometimes a few simple changes can help you strengthen your willpower and accomplish your goals. The first change you need to make? Make your resolutions simpler. For instance, if your goal is to:
1. Drink more water. Nearly 80 percent of Americans claim they don’t drink enough water. So if your goal is getting more water in your diet, but you’re not thrilled with water, broaden your goal to include a wider variety of healthy beverages such as tea, sparkling water, plant-based milk, soup and coffee (yes, coffee). And you can rehydrate with certain foods.
2. Manage your weight. If you’re struggling to meet your goal weight and dieting isn’t your thing, switch your focus from the number on your scale to the numbers on the skinfold calipers. In other words, concentrate on your body composition, not weight. Eat healthy, get some aerobic activity and strength training into your weekly routine and drink plenty of fluids.
3. Kick the habit. If quitting cigarettes seems overwhelming, instead of looking at it from a long-term perspective, take it one day at a time. Work with your doctor to develop a quit plan that may include enrolling in a smoking cessation program and using tobacco replacement therapies.
“If you’re really struggling giving up tobacco, cut back on the number of cigarettes you smoke each day," says Bernard Kaminetsky, MD, medical director, MDVIP. “Cutting back is a little controversial among experts, as some experts get concerned that an individual will cut back but may never actually quit.”
But cutting back means you’re smoking less tobacco, nicotine and poisonous chemicals. And if you continue slowly cutting back on a regular basis, you’ll find it easier to schedule a quit date, possibly quitting for good.
4. Eat a clean diet. Yes, for the most part, your diet should be comprised of high-quality, whole foods. Heavily processed foods are linked to obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. But it’s common to experience weak moments during holidays, celebrations, even happy hour. But if you “fall of the wagon,” resume your healthy habits the next day with a clean conscience.
If you’re really putting an effort into minimizing processed foods, keep in mind that some processed foods have value. For instance, frozen fruits and vegetables enable you to buy seasonal produce all year long. It’s a lot more convenient to buy pre-packaged nut butters, plant-based milk products and hummus than to make them. Some processed foods are fortified with hard-to-get nutrients like iodized salt, calcium and vitamin D. And in terms of food-borne illnesses, processed foods tend to be safer than raw foods.
You should also adopt smaller, shorter-term goals. “Large goals can be rather daunting. Breaking them into smaller goals can be more reasonable. And you can adopt small goals on a weekly basis,” says Kaminetsky.
Weekly resolutions aren’t a new concept. Some experts believe “Monday resolutions” are more effective than annual resolutions because weekly cycles enable you to start fresh every Monday morning. In fact, internet searches for health information are highest on Mondays and Tuesdays, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. And the non-profit The Monday Campaigns promotes Mondays as the day to start a diet, new workout, quit smoking or visit the doctor.
“If you have big health resolutions, don’t go it alone, work with your doctor,” says Kaminetsky. “They can help you break them down into smaller, more manageable goals and prioritize them.
If you do not have a doctor, consider partnering with an MDVIP-affiliated physician. MDVIP doctors have the time to work with you to help you develop a personalized wellness program. Find a physician near you and begin your partnership in health »