Realistic Steps to “Make it Stick”
How many people set New Year’s resolutions only to give up on them a few hours, days or weeks later? Setting a new goal for a new year can be a great idea– if it’s done correctly. Here are a few strategies to help New Year’s resolutions work with you, instead of against you.
- DEFINE YOUR GOAL. Once you figure out what your long term goal is, you can come up with a plan on how to get there. Perhaps you want to give up drinking soda for the New Year. It’s important to have specific and defined goals; you can then make a plan HOW to achieve them.
- Plan for the HOW. If it is soda that you are giving up, figure out when you typically drink soda. What can you drink in place of it? Make sure that you have the alternative beverage available to you during the time when you normally would have had a soda. Are you still going to allow yourself to have one soda, maybe once a week, or would you rather not drink any soda? Planning ahead for HOW you are going to carry out your plan will ensure a better rate of success.
- It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you have been drinking three sodas per day for as long as you can remember, maybe the first step is to cut back to two sodas per day. Start with that for two weeks and then, two weeks later, decrease to one soda per day. Continue working your way down until you have cut it out completely. Sometimes, a “cold turkey” approach is too restricting and you may end up giving up on your goal because it was too difficult. If you taper the consumption of soda gradually down to one per day, it would be easier to give up one soda to reach your goal of eliminating soda altogether.
- Plan for the challenges that may come up and how you are going to deal with them. If you are giving up soda, but your favorite time to have a soda is when you feel stressed at work, plan for what you will do or have instead of soda. For example, if you start feeling stressed, plan to get up and take a five minute walk instead of reaching for a soda or bring a bottle of unsweetened tea to have instead. Make a list of five things to do instead of drinking a soda; when the urge to drink a soda strikes, replace it by choosing something from your list.
- Reward yourself. Tell yourself if you successfully follow your plan for two weeks in a row, that you will buy yourself a new piece of fishing gear or a piece of jewelry with the money that you saved from not buying soda. Simple rewards go a long way in celebrating your successes and provide pleasant visual reminders of your triumphs—much like receiving a medal after a marathon.
- Add a healthy behavior instead of just cutting things. Instead of just giving up certain foods, drinks, and/or bad habits, think about adding positive habits to your lifestyle. For example, make it a goal to add vegetables to lunch three to four days per week or add a healthy afternoon snack to help keep you from getting so hungry and overeating at dinner. Drinking more water and adding physical activity would also be great healthy additions to your daily routine.
If you are looking for support and accountability to make some healthy lifestyle changes, St. Luke’s Hospital offers a group class called The Healthy Weigh Program. This program not only educates people on the components of healthy lifestyle, but it also teaches strategies on how to lead a healthier lifestyle. The program goals are both weight loss and disease prevention of chronic conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The next Healthy Weigh session starts on January 19. Classes will be offered at 7 a.m. on Tuesdays and at 4 p.m. or 5:15 p.m. on Wednesdays. For more information, please call 314.205.6483