How to Keep the Health and Wellness Resolutions You Make

It's January 1, which means that millions of Americans will be making resolutions for the new year. While New Year's resolutions are a longstanding tradition, they're often broken within a week or two of New Year's day. If you've made a resolution related to health or wellness for the new year, here's what you need to do in order to make sure you stick with your plan.

Pick a Manageable Change

Perhaps you have a lofty goal of dropping your BMI from the "obese" category to the "healthy" category. That's a big and unspecific change to make. It's better to make a manageable, specific change that you can actually manage. One registered dietician suggested picking a very specific change, which will make your resolution easier to keep. A few examples of specific changes include decreasing your daily alcohol consumption from two glasses of wine to one, taking at least 10,000 steps per day at least five days per week or trying one new fruit or vegetable per week.

Set a Reasonable Goal

If you're used to eating dessert after every meal, it's not reasonable to expect yourself to only eat dessert once a year on your birthday. Setting an unreasonable resolution is a big step on the path to failure. Even if you're inspired to make a big change, that will get old in a few weeks. You'll be more likely to fail spectacularly if your resolution is unrealistic than if you set a realistic goal. A good example of a realistic goal is to go from eating a big bowl of ice cream every night after dinner to eating a 1/2-cup serving of ice cream or eating one bowl of ice cream per week.

Be Flexible With Yourself

Perhaps you want to be more active in 2021, so you set a goal of exercising for 45 minutes per day, every day of the week. Then life happens, and you have to work late to finish a project, or you get sick and can't exercise for a week or two or you have to step in and help a relative who needs assistance in their home for a month. A lack of flexibility could lead you to you write off your entire resolution as a lost cause. If you have to work late for a whole week to finish a time-sensitive project, perhaps you could amend your plan for that week to include two 15-minute walks per day this week, then boost your fitness time to 50 minutes per day for the next two or three weeks to make up the difference.

Give Yourself Grace

Maybe you set a resolution to consume one serving of alcohol at most per day. Then, your anniversary rolls around, and your significant other bought you a wine tasting tour as a gift. It's okay to enjoy the special event so long as you understand that it's a one-time deal. Give yourself grace when circumstances beyond your control interfere with your resolution. Just don't use outside circumstances as an excuse all the time; otherwise, you'll get down on yourself and feel like a failure.

Communicate Your Resolution to an Accountability Partner

When it comes to sticking with your resolution, you can be your own worst enemy. It's important to communicate your plan to a trusted person who can serve as your accountability partner. This person should be able to text or call you at least once a day. They should ask you how it's going, request your step count for the day or inquire as to what new fruit or vegetable you ate this week. You're more likely to meet your goal for 2021 if you'll be held accountable by someone else for your behavior.

Don't Feel Down If You Miss Your Goal

Most people are their own worst critics. That negative voice in your head is always there to scold, shame or send you on a guilt trip about what you did. When you make a mistake, learn from it. So you had two scoops of ice cream, and you poured chocolate syrup, sprinkles and whipped cream all over it in a moment of weakness on a tough day. Instead of hating yourself for it and forgetting your whole resolution, move past it. Accept that you made a mistake, remember how it made you feel when you realized it and do better the next time.

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