What the Heck Happened to My New Year’s Resolutions?

Here we are in the third week of January. Who made a health-focused New Year’s resolution that has already been broken? The truth is, only about 36% of new year resolutions make it past the first month and only 9% past the first year! What the heck is going on?

Do all of these failed resolutions mean we lack willpower? That somehow we secretly don’t want to make the healthy lifestyle changes we dream about? That we aren’t “strong” enough to stick to our convictions? If that is the case, then these “failed” resolutions are a double whammy – not only did we not stick to our word, but that means there is something inherently wrong with us! Ouch! But wait, that doesn’t make sense either.  The vast majority of us are able to accomplish most of the tasks we set out to do. So, why is it so hard to make lasting changes when it comes to our health?

On the surface, it doesn’t make sense. We have the motivating information (carrying extra weight leads to health complications, exercising helps our body, brain and mental health, eating vegetables daily gives us the nutrients we need, etc); we have a plan (walk every morning, eat better, lose 10 pounds, etc); we started out strong (killing it at the gym the first week, eating really well for three days, losing 2 pound in two days, etc). And then…life gets in the way and, here we are, three weeks later, feeling worse than we did before we started. 

What most of us miss is the importance of creating a solid plan that recognizes that sustained change occurs in small increments. Also, most of us do better with some sort of accountability and with recognition, even celebration, of the small wins along the way. 

Instead of saying (Plan A): This year, I am going to join a gym and start working out five days a week.

Try this (Plan B): By the end of this year, I see myself running three miles in 30 minutes without stopping (attainable, concrete goal). 

To get there, I am going to start by walking three times a week for 15 minutes.

The best time for me to walk is in the morning before work. 

To walk in the morning, I need to get to bed 30 minutes earlier. To accomplish this, I need to turn off the TV at 9pm and get into bed by 9:30. 

The night before, I need to check the weather for the next day and set out appropriate walking clothes. I also need to have my water bottle filled and coffee ready to be turned on so it is ready when I get back. 

In the mornings, I need to get out of bed when my alarm goes off. To motivate myself, I will remember that a hot cup of coffee is waiting for me after the walk. 

Things that might get in the way are: sickness, weather, feeling tired, vacations. When these occur, I will look at my calendar and create a plan for walking later that day or another day. 

Each week that I accomplish this, I will celebrate the progress I have made and add incrementally to the weekly goal.

I will share this with a friend or family member who supports me, celebrates the wins with me, and maybe even wants to join me on these walks!

See how different these are? The first one is a set up for failure. The second one takes more time upfront, but sets us up to reach our goals. 

We don’t need to wait until January 1 to start anything. Every day is a new opportunity to take a small step toward big changes!

With love,

Fran

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