For many people, the New Year is a time of renewal and fresh opportunities. It's a time to slough off the baggage of the previous year and start new habits that will bring you closer to your goals. If your goal is to get healthier, lose weight or achieve a greater level of fitness, a New Year's resolution might be exactly what you need to get motivated to start making changes in your life. However, not all resolutions are created equal. For the maximum chances of success, you need to focus on creating goals that are specific, measurable and achievable.
Setting the right type of goal is important for success. If your goals are too difficult to achieve, you may get discouraged and give up entirely rather than continue to work toward your desired outcome. Changing the way you think about your goals will help to set yourself up for success. As you contemplate your resolution, consider:
- Is my goal specific? Vague goals like "get healthy" or "lose weight" can quickly become overwhelming because they don’t have clearly marked milestones. If you have a specific goal in mind, such as a target weight, you'll have an easier time seeing your progress toward that end point.
- Is my goal measurable? At the beginning of the year, you might be fired up with enthusiasm and motivation. That motivation can start to wane as the weeks go on, and you may ultimately get discouraged and quit if you haven't seen any signs of progress. Set yourself up for success by choosing small goal with measurable results so that you can keep track of your achievements and keep yourself motivated.
- Is my goal attainable? You want to be realistic with yourself about your limits. You might not be running a marathon by the end of the year, however, you’re much more likely to do so if you’re motivated to continue working toward it. Remember to set small goals first and build upon them over time as you work toward constant improvements.
Now that you’ve got your goal in mind, it’s important to remember that action-based goals often more achievable and motivating than goals built around outcomes. You may not have complete control over the outcomes of your decisions, but you do have control over your behavior. Thinking of your goals in terms of what you will do each day rather than what you hope to accomplish can help you to stay motivated and keep you on the right track even when facing setbacks.
With that in mind, here are three totally achievable New Years resolutions that can help get you on the path toward greater fitness and a happier new you.
Cut Down on Sugar
For many people, sugar is a major problem. Not only can it lead to problems like obesity and type 2 diabetes, cravings for sugar-rich foods can displace other foods with greater nutritional value. You may find that simply cutting out some of the sugar in your diet can lead to weight loss and other positive health changes without having to otherwise dramatically modify your everyday habits. For some people, simply cutting out soda is enough to see major health benefits without changing any other dietary habits.
Eliminating sugar from your diet is difficult, but cutting down doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to nix your favorite foods altogether. Once you’ve established which foods or drinks to cut down on, consider the many sources of hidden sugars in our diet. Swapping one kind of pasta sauce for another could ultimately save you hundreds of tablespoons of the white stuff over the course of your spaghetti-eating career.
Fill Half of Your Plate with Vegetables
Instead of setting out to cut down on carbs or other delicious foods, try making a commitment to boost your vegetable intake instead. Veggies are packed with vitamins and fiber, which make them a nutritious and low-calorie option. Whenever you make a meal, fill up half of your plate with vegetables and save the other half for a combination of grains and proteins. If you're eating something like a casserole, boost your vegetable intake by making steamed beans or a healthy green salad with a low-sugar dressing on the side. By looking for places to add more vegetables to your diet, you will naturally displace lower-quality foods and give your nutrition a boost without feeling deprived.
Find a Physical Activity You Enjoy
Whether it’s a low-impact activity like walking or bowling or you’re interested in learning the ropes at your local rock climbing gym, finding a reason to get off the couch three to four times a week for an hour will keep you from experiencing physical and mental ailments commonly associated with aging. There’s no need to commit yourself to the treadmill at your local gym, particularly if you don’t enjoy it. Long-term health goals are best achieved through activities that feel like hobbies rather than chores. Choose an activity you think you’d be happy repeating for the next 30 years and make time to do it on a regular basis.