By Joli Guenther, MSSW, NASM
Want to guarantee your placement among the successful who stick to their New Year's Resolutions this year? Follow these tips to make sure your changes are permanent.
1. Don't put it off. Start thinking about your resolutions early and look forward to the changes so that you can avoid letting just one more day, week, or event go by.
2. Examine your motivation. Make a list of pros and cons associated with the changes you want to make. Sure, there are a lot of advantages to eating healthy and exercising, but you'll also be making some very real sacrifices. Be honest about what you're giving up so you can see the advantages outweigh the losses.
3. Be Specific. It's easy to say you're going to "eat better" or "exercise more," but unless you define what that looks like (i.e. five veggies a day or three runs a week), it's easy to fall off track.
4. Be realistic. We all want to see results now. Although losing 50 pounds in a month or jumping off your couch to finish a March marathon can be done, it will cost you in terms of injuries and damage to your health. Make 2012 a healthy happy year with resolutions you can realistically accomplish and maintain for the long term.
5. Break it down. You may not change everything in your life overnight, but a few small changes over the course of the next year can add up to a big difference by December 31, 2012. Try setting daily, monthly and weekly goals to keep yourself on track.
6. Plan for the Unexpected. Give your resolutions enough flexibility to allow for family demands, travel and work deadlines. Think ahead to the challenges you will face and develop a plan to stay healthy even when the going gets tough.
7. Write it Down. Once you've defined your resolutions and set your dates, put them on your calendar. This makes your changes real and achievable.
8. Enlist support. Let your family know what you're doing (and make sure they're on board), see if you can get a friend to join you in your efforts, hire a personal trainer, or take your intentions public by putting them out on Facebook. This gets others involved in your success and ready to provide you with support when it gets tough.
9. Don't beat yourself up. Successful resolutions are a marathon, not a sprint to the finish. Sure, you might miss a run or indulge in a big slice of cheesecake. The key is not allowing those bumps in the road to throw you off course. Keep your eyes on where you're going long term and congratulate yourself on the progress you've made.
10. Talk about it. You've already created your support network. Now, tell them how you're doing, often. This keeps your resolutions real and keeps you accountable.
Weigh in: Have additional tips or what to share how these tips have worked (or not worked) for you? Share those thoughts here.