Keep Your New Years Resolutions!

Published February 5th, 2020 by Dr. Daner

The turn from one year to the next is a time of new beginnings, fresh starts, and clean slates. It is also a time when people start making New Years’ resolutions. In many cases, these resolutions involve taking better care of ourselves, whether it is getting in better physical shape or eating better. Unfortunately, studies show that almost 75% of people do not “stick” to these resolutions, and fall back into old habits. I have a few ideas on why people do not do a better job of keeping these promises to themselves and have an idea or 2 on giving yourself a better chance of turning those bad habits around. 

Personally, I think the main reason that people fail at changing habits is setting unrealistic expectations which leads to frustration which leads to abandonment. If you want to get in better shape as a resolution, and you do not currently go to the gym, setting a goal to go every day is not realistic. If you are someone who eats a lot of fried foods and sweets, going cold turkey off of them is most likely not going to work. When you are starting a completely new routine, it is important to set small goals at the beginning and work your way up, not the other way around. People try to “bite off more than they can chew”, then realize it is not possible, and give up completely. Something is always better than nothing, so if you want to try and get in better shape for the new year, set a goal of going to the gym 2 or 3 times a week at first, then work your way up. Also, I think it is important to reward yourself for sticking to your resolution. Adding incentives for completing goals is very useful. At the beginning of 2019, I decided I was going to get in better cardiovascular shape. I made a promise to myself to do cardio 3 times a week. As I started and was able to do this, I gradually added extra days and extra time, and stuck with it. By June, I was doing cardio for an hour a day before work Monday through Friday. I added incentives to push myself like if I was able to go every day Monday through Friday, I could eat whatever I wanted for lunch on Friday. I have not missed a day of cardio since June, it is no longer a resolution, but part of my routine. Prolonged habit keeping leads to it being just a part of your day :) 

When making resolutions to try and change long-standing habits and behavior, it is mandatory to set attainable goals. Rome was not built in a day, and you are not going to lose 100 lbs in a day or gain 30 lbs of muscle mass. Slow and steady wins the race, so set small goals and build your way up. This will greatly increase the chance of keeping it and becoming a better you. 

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