Ever wonder why your New Year’s resolution to be healthier never seems to make it past the month of January? You’re not alone. According to MSNBC, 54 percent of individuals who made resolutions failed to keep their goals. And while altering your diet and fitness regimen may be one of the most common routes to go after the first of the year, it is also one of the hardest aspirations to uphold.
All too often, New Year’s resolutions reflect drastic changes that require individuals to totally reverse the way they think and go about their lives. The most difficult New Year’s resolutions to keep are those that entail breaking habits. If your goal is to eliminate fast food from you diet, but you generally snack on Crunchwrap Supremes and Big Macs five or six times a week, you are setting yourself up to fail. Try making small changes, such as cutting down to one meal from Taco Bell a week, and you will have a better chance of succeeding. Deprivation is never the key to success – especially when indulgence has been your best friend all year.
State the Rules
When you set a generic, trite goal for yourself, you have no guidelines to follow and end up falling short. Rather than say “I’ll eat better this year” or “I’m going to get rid of these love handles,” try being more specific. Time-oriented strategies are often more likely to deliver positive results. Try “I will eat two servings of fruit every day” or “I will go to the gym for 40 minutes, three times a week.” Keep track of these daily or weekly successes in a planner or calendar; being able to visualize these goals is better than imagining results that may never happen.
Mind Over Stomach
If you are anything like me, the thought of going a day without something sweet is almost unbearable. The prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for willpower, is often overworked and unable to successfully combat cravings – despite how unwarranted and fleeting they may often be. NPR reported on a study in which two groups of individuals were asked to remember either two-digit or seven-digit numbers and were then tempted with chocolate cake or fruit salad. The group asked to remember the seven-digit number was twice as likely to choose the cake as the first group.
According to NPR, “Knowing something is the right thing to do takes extra brain work. But the brain may not have the energy or is too tired at the moment…Sometimes it only can take having to remember an extra five digits or similar facts that becomes the ‘straw’ that breaks the resolution.”
Come up with a mantra to help your brain remember your resolution, and the longer you stick with it, the easier it will become!
Logging the number of calories burned on the treadmill is only valuable if you also are aware of the number calories you are consuming. If you replace your afternoon candy bar with a protein bar, you may be surprised to find out you are probably consuming about the same number of calories. Being prepared also means carefully choosing your company. If you surround yourself with constant snackers, you are bound to find yourself nibbling. Pair up with a friend or relative for support.
It is important to remember that New Year’s resolutions are often made with full bellies and guilty consciences. The period between Thanksgiving and the first of the year is characterized by extreme indulging, which conveniently serves as the perfect fuel for devising health-related resolutions. Be realistic, and be strong – good luck!Tweet