Are you planning on setting a New Year's resolution this year? I am, but I haven't figured out what my resolution is yet—I want to make sure that it's attainable and realistic, unlike certain resolutions that I've set in the past.
The "I will start exercising every day for one hour and eat five servings of veggies a day" when you've never set foot in a gym before and you choke down one serving of veggies a day (if you're lucky) kind of resolution? This kind of resolution sounds really amazing in your head when you're setting it, but quickly becomes a disappointing and defeating failure a week into the New Year. Don't put yourself through this again this year. Set a realistic resolution that you can achieve without giving up foods that you love and killing yourself at the gym.
Ask yourself three important questions before you set a goal or resolution for the New Year:
Why are you choosing to set this goal? How will this make your life better or easier? What will you gain when you reach this goal? If you don’t have a strong motivating factor when it comes to your goal, you won’t be successful in achieving it. For example, if you set a goal of eating breakfast everyday from Monday to Friday, that’s awesome! But why? Maybe because you heard from a friend that it was a good idea or you think it may be healthy to do so? Hmm, not good enough! You may go one or two days having breakfast and then give up because you didn’t have a strong enough motivator. On the other hand, if your motivator is that eating breakfast will help to significantly boost your metabolism, give you more energy and help you to lose that 5 pounds that you’ve been wanting to lose forever, then YES! That’s a strong motivator that will keep you on track.
When are you going to start working towards this goal? What days of the week are you going to work on this goal? What time? What is the specific time frame? A month? A year? I know this sounds a little “structured”, but it’s not. In fact, these specific timing details are key when setting realistic goals. If you set a goal of walking more for exercise, that’s awesome. But simply saying that you’re going to “walk more” isn’t going to cut it. Instead, decide when you will start walking (i.e., Wednesday January 2nd), what days of the week (i.e. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), and what time (i.e., after your toddler’s nap time at 3pm). Also, set a timeline (i.e., I will do this from January 2nd to March 9th, 2012, and at that point, re-evaluate my goal). These specific details will help to keep you motivated and on track, especially if you take it a step further and actually schedule it into your daytimer or calendar.
Ok, so you’ve set a New Years Resolution and you’re really excited about it. But you realize that there are a few barriers to actually achieving it. Perhaps your barrier is time, or lack thereof. Or perhaps it’s the unpredictable weather (how can you go for a walk if it’s –30 out?). It’s important to think about all of the possible barriers that may keep you from achieving your goal and then breaking them down. You will definitely need support from your partner or spouse, maybe a bit of childcare, and even a buddy to keep you accountable. Whatever your potential barriers are, ask yourself if they are too big to overcome. If they are, tweak your resolution so that there are no longer potential barriers. If your barriers are small enough that you can overcome them, great! Go for it!
Here are some examples of realistic resolutions that you may want to try out:
Sign up for a yoga class once a week: Yoga is safe, builds strength and flexibility and helps to de-stress and relax.
Start adding a piece of fruit to your breakfast: If you're used to having a simple bowl of cereal or piece of toast with peanut butter, balance your breakfast out with some fruit to add fibre, vitamins and minerals and antioxidants.
Start planning out your suppers once a week: Meal planning will save you time, money and stress. You'll know what groceries you need for the week and won't be tempted to order in every night.
Sign up for a 5km run or walk: If you've always wanted to try running, sign yourself up for a run or walk in the Spring. This way, you have made yourself accountable to your goal. You haven't committed to a marathon yet, but you've signed yourself up for a realistic challenge.
Cut back the amount of alcohol that you drink: If you've gotten into the habit of drinking a little more than you'd like, cut back just a little bit. For example, if you have 2-3 glasses of wine a night, cut back to 1 and use a smaller glass.
Keep tempting junk foods out of the house: If you tend to mindlessly snack on empty-calorie, unhealthy foods at home on a daily basis, make a point of not buying them. Out of sight, out of mind. If you have a craving for something sweet or salty, make a special trip to purchase one serving of it. You may just decide that you don't want it badly enough.
Happy New Year and good luck!!