During the holidays we are faced with many challenges that disrupt our normal eating, exercise schedules and routines. Between holiday parties and family gatherings, it's easy to fall off-track.
December marks the time of the season for setting New Year’s resolutions; reflecting on the past year and begin making plans for the new one. If you are like most people, losing weight, eating healthy, or getting in shape is probably on the top of your list.
Unfortunately, most of us lose our momentum or quit by February or March. Resolving to make a change is one thing, keeping a resolution is the real challenge. According to the University of Scranton research, only 8 percent of Americans are successful in achieving their resolutions.
If you don’t want to be part of the 92 percent, here are some tips provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield to get you started on changing your life today:
Make a Plan
Goal setting is the first and most important step for successful behavior change. Seeing your goals in writing can help you stick to realistic expectations. Hang them up where you can see them everyday. S.M.A.R.T. goals have the following characteristics:
Specific: Choose a goal that is concise, focused and clearly states what you eventually hope to accomplish. List the steps you must take to reach your goal. For example, “I am going to lose 20 pounds this year” versus “I want to be healthier this year.”
Measurable: Decide exactly what success will look like by tracking your progress to know when your goal has been reached. For example, “I am going to walk 10 minutes during my lunch break” versus “I will start exercising.”
Attainable: Choose a goal that you can achieve if you set your mind to it. Try not to make the goal neither too extreme nor so easy that it is not motivating. Baby steps can be valuable changes. For example, if you’re not currently active, running a marathon may not be a realistic goal for you, but walking daily is achievable.
Realistic: Your goal should be something that you are likely attain and are truly committed to. If the goal is too expensive, inconvenient or difficult, you won’t stick to it.
Time-based: Set a timeframe for accomplishing your goal to boost your motivation and keep you on track. For example, if your long-term goal is to 20 pounds in four months a short-term goal may be to lose five pounds each month.
For adults, aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activities like brisk walking. That is 30 minutes, five to six times a week — but you can break it up into 10-minute increments and spread it out more. Read more about the recommendations on physical activity from the CDC Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, & Obesity here.
According to the USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov, be successful in selecting healthier food and drink selections using the tips below:
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Buy, wash, cut up and portion fruits and vegetables in bulk.
- Make at least half your grains whole. Choose whole-grain breads, pasta and cereal.
- Eat fish twice a week for heart health.
- Compare food labels to make healthier choices. Up to 75 percent of your daily sodium comes from restaurant and processed foods.
- Eat home-cooked meals from smaller plates (8-9 inches across).
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks like soda or juice, and use low-fat or skim milk instead of whole milk. And of course, limit sweets.
Schedule Preventive Exams
Regular healthcare, including dental and vision examinations, is important for the prevention and early detection of diseases and their complications. As a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a range of recommended preventive services are available at no cost to you, the consumer, as long as you are insured. The earlier diseases are diagnosed, the easier they are to treat.
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. It can boost your mood, improve your relationships and help you feel more satisfied in life. Spend just 15 minutes a week writing a thank-you note to someone about something you truly value, keep a daily gratitude journal, or simply smile and say thank you.
Sticking to your New Year's resolution all year long is about making small, sustainable improvements for a healthier you. Remember to respect your own preferences, surround yourself with supportive people and to forgive yourself for slips, and you will be sailing through the months!
“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” – John C. Maxwell
To learn more, check out these websites: