Happy New Year! Have you made a resolution yet?

17 12 2010
Jessica Peacock

Jessica Peacock

Each year thousands of Americans resolve to lose weight or improve their lives in some way. Maybe you’ve already started thinking about what you’d like to achieve in 2011. Ask yourself this though:

How many New Year’s resolutions have you made before and NOT succeeded at?

Unfortunately, it’s common to set a resolution that we eventually give up on throughout the year. One reason this happens is because our goals or expectations are often out of whack – we get excited about the idea of changing, but then try to do too much too soon and give up when things don’t magically improve overnight (sound familiar?!).

To increase the odds that you can achieve your resolution this year, here are some helpful hints for setting good (or SMART!) goals:

  1. Make sure your goals are SPECIFIC. One of the benefits of setting a goal is that it helps us direct our attention to what we need to do to be successful. If your goal is vague, how will you know you have achieved it?
  2. Have a way to MEASURE your goals and progress. For example, rather than setting a goal of “eating better” this year, you could resolve to eat 4-6 fruits and vegetables each day. This makes tracking your success easier!
  3. Allow your goals to be ADJUSTABLE. Being flexible with your goals will help you stay motivated to reach them even when things get hard. You can make your goals easier to achieve if you find yourself struggling, or harder to reach if you find you need more of a challenge.
  4. One of the most important strategies is to have a goal that is REALISTIC. This is a common mistake among people trying to lose weight. In the WMP, we recommend that you focus on losing 1-2 pounds per week, as this is a safe and realistic goal. Attempting to lose any more than that will likely be difficult and frustrating, and could cause you to lose the motivation to continue.
  5. Set a TIME by which you’d like to reach your goal. Having a timeframe for achieving your goal will also help you stay focused; just make sure that your timeframe for achieving the goal is realistic!

In addition to these SMART guidelines, here are a few other tips for setting good goals this New Year:

  • Set both short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals will ultimately help you reach the end result you desire. Plus, achieving success each week on a small goal will help keep you motivated and feeling good!
  • Keep yourself accountable: put an app on your phone, put a calendar on your fridge – high tech or low tech doesn’t matter, just keep yourself accountable to your goals every single day.
  • Remember: eating right, exercising, and losing weight are all HARD! In fact, this process will likely be harder than you expect it to be. It will probably also take longer for you to lose weight and establish a healthy lifestyle than you would like. Fortunately, the WMP is a 2-year long benefit, and we are all here to help you achieve your goals. Just prepare yourself to put in a lot of effort and hard work – but also to experience lots of great rewards!

Jessica Peacock, Health Behavior Counselor

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