Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Holidays
Tips for your New Year’s resolutions
Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Barton County University of Missouri Extension
It’s that time of year when we all think about changes we want to make in our lives. For many people, those resolutions include a vow to eat healthy, exercise and/or lose weight.
Before you start thinking about how to make your change and assure it happens, you have to figure out what changes you want to make. Be realistic about changes you will be able to make. People who set a specific goal (I will walk 30 minutes most days) have a much better chance at being successful than people who set a more general goal (I’m going to get in shape.) People who make one or two changes at a time are also more likely to be successful than those who try to change everything all at once.
Some suggestions for habits that can make a positive impact on your health include eating breakfast, drinking three cups of low-fat or fat-free milk every day, decreasing sodium to no more than 2400 milligrams per day, decreasing fat to no more than 30 percent of your total calories (around 67 milligrams), drinking 6-8 cups of water per day, or eliminating or decreasing soda.
New Year’s resolutions can be beneficial because the name itself sets a date for you to make a change. It is good to have a date in mind for changing a habit because that commitment actually helps you follow through with your change.
It takes at least 21 days to change a habit. Some things that will help you stay on target with making positive changes in your life include writing down your goal and listing reasons why you want to meet your goal. Encouragement from others also helps us to reach our goals. Tell relatives and close friends about your goals so they can offer encouragement.
It may take as little as 21 days to establish a new habit but it can take much longer to assure that you will sustain that new habit. Prepare yourself now for that time in late January or mid-February that your motivation wanes. Things that you can do when that happens include having a reward in mind for establishing your goal. Knowing there is a reward in sight can get you through rough times. Think about how it will be when you establish your goal. If your goal is walking 30 minutes per day, think about how much more energy you will have and how much better you will consistently feel because you have been active.
There are very few people who can say making these types of changes is easy. One very important thing to remember is that if the day comes when you have been unable to sustain your new habit, don’t count it as a failure. Just know some days are better than others and vow to re-establish your desired habit.
Last update: Wednesday, January 02, 2013