New Year Resolutions...Making Them Stick

I had the pleasure of appearing on KPFA Radio with Dr. Will Courtenay and Professor John Norcross (Author of Changeology) to talk about Resolutions --or goals and intentions if you prefer thinking about it that way. The topic for the radio show was how to make goals or resolutions last beyond the first month. It was a pleasure to be in studio with Dr. Will and have a great conversation on this topic. You can listen to the full segment here.

Did you know 50% of Americans make New Year resolutions? And those who make them are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals. Having strategies in place can make a big difference in following through. These strategies can help you stick to your health goals throughout 2017!

Strategy #1: Have a Specific Game Plan. Being specific with your goal or goals increases the chances that your game plan will actually work. For example, instead of saying, "I will lose weight" or "I need to exercise more", set a specific goal such as, "I will walk for 30 minutes,  3 days/week" or "I will eat 3 servings of vegetables every day."

 What's your game plan?

What's your game plan?

Strategy #2: Add strategies to your Game Plan: Why? Strategies help your goals work for the long-term. For example, along with a goal of exercising 30 minutes, 3 days per week, think about what will help make your exercise happen? First, determine which 3 days are most realistic for you to exercise. Would it help to add it to your calendar? Or set an alarm on your phone? Schedule a walking date with a friend? The Bottom line: The more specific you can be with your strategies, the more likely you are to actually accomplish the goal. 

Strategy #3: Track Your Progress. Our lives are very busy, making it easy to get distracted and fall off track. Recording exercise days or minutes and tracking food intake keeps us focused on our goals. When we're starting new behaviors, we need reminders to keep us going. Record Keeping can also provide positive feedback on our progress, which gives us motivation to keep going. You don't have to track everything, but pick specific areas you are most interested in recording. For example, the number of minutes you exercise or even a check mark on the calendar for days you exercise. Writing down the healthy foods you eat, such as fruit and vegetables or beans and lean protein, can encourage you to choose them more often.

 REcord exercise minutes and healthy food choices

REcord exercise minutes and healthy food choices

Strategy #4:  Work with a Buddy. Making healthy lifestyle changes is much easier when we have support and accountability. There are many types of support, including friends, family members, colleagues and internet groups. Support from family might include kids and spouses helping with grocery shopping, meal planning and meal preparation; or brainstorming recipe and meal ideas together. Lastly, consider working with a registered dietitian or fitness coach who can provide strategies and support to make your family’s New Year resolutions become lasting healthy habits throughout 2017.