2016 has been a long, long year. And with 2017 coming up, it’s time to think about New Year’s resolutions. Many are getting excited about the positive changes they can make in their lives, yet like every year, New Year’s resolutions are more often than not forgotten by the end of January. One of the most common New Year’s resolutions, as has been the case since forever, is to pick up healthier habits. Yet how can you make sure that you can make these habits, as opposed to fleeting wishes? Here are some tips, taken from an article I was reading this morning:
Be realistic: Many novices to fitness expect instant results, but anybody who understands fitness knows that if you look like Chris Farley, you won’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger after a month. Make resolutions that are practical: you won’t lose 60 lbs over six weeks, but 1-2 lbs is perfectly reasonable.
Break it down: By breaking down your long-term goals into more manageable short-term chunks is ultimately more rewarding, since it allows you celebrate every small milestone.
Don’t overload: Piggybacking on the previous point, after you break down your resolutions make sure you’re not overloading yourself. Let’s say you want to be healthier, take one step at a time. Let’s say you want to get healthy: instead of going to the gym, quitting drinking, eating more salads and quitting smoking at the same time, just do one at a time. Once you’ve got one under control, you can move onto the next one.
Work SMART: Psychologists talk about goals that are “SMART”: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Let’s say you want to “cut down on eating unhealthy meals”, that’s not SMART. But if you say “I don’t want to eat more than one unhealthy meal a week”, then that’s SMART.
Start a diary: Often-times, emotional triggers cause us to relapse into bad habits, even if we don’t recognize it. If you start a diary that records your feelings, you’ll be able to identify those triggers. Ask yourself how you’re feeling and what you need, and once you’ve done that you can find healthier alternatives. Instead of getting a burger when you’re stressed, you can try going for a jog.
Be simple: An action is a habit when you don’t have to think about it, so remove any excess options. For example, let’s say you want to have a healthy breakfast every morning; don’t vary your choices too much, but rather stick to one simple recipe that you can easily replicate every day.
Tell people: Sometimes people can get really annoying when they tell everybody about their fitness goals, but if your family and friends know about your plans, then you’ll be encouraged to keep with them to save face.
Find a buddy: Changing bad habits on your own is tough, but if somebody else has the same goals as you, then team up with them. It will offer an extra bit of support, and help your chances of success improve overall.
Setbacks will happen: Lapses are a natural part of the process; it’s only inevitable that you won’t always be able to resist temptation. If that happens, don’t beat yourself up, but accept that it’s all part of the learning process.
Treat yourself: By rewarding yourself, you can “fix” new healthy habits. Reward yourself for your first few steps, at least until your new healthy habit becomes ingrained. Make your rewards small and enjoyable, and they’ll serve as a great incentive.