It is that time of year again. Time to be bombarded with chaotic schedules, dinners, drinks, treats and crazy weather. While the holidays are a wonderful time to reconnect with family, they are not so fabulous for health and fitness. Luckily, New Years is just around the corner and with that we have one of our favorite holiday past times…making resolutions. Our culture loves to make a list of the million changes we are going to make at the first of the year. You know that everybody does it. The problem is, not everybody keeps them. So in this busy, crazy, hectic life how do we keep the changes we desperately want to make? I wish I could say “just do ________ and you will have no problems at all keeping your resolutions”. Unfortunately, the answer is not so simple. If it were, we would all weigh 100 pounds and have more than enough to buy a Starbucks coffee in our saving’s account. I have attempted to compile a list of guidelines that can help you not be the one who gives up their New Year’s Resolution this year. If you want it, then do it.
1. Tomorrow is another day and 4 pm is another hour. Just because you accidentally had that piece of cake that you swore you wouldn’t doesn’t mean you should give up until next year. Keep on with your goals. That one piece of cake is over and done with so keep on eating like you resolved to for the rest of the day. Don’t let that be your setback and the reason you gave up your goal. With that being said, it is also not a reason to eat junk the rest of the day.
2. Be the change you want to make. A study based on keeping resolutions found that participants were more successful when they had self-efficacy of change, self-efficacy of maintenance and a readiness to change (Norcross, J., 1995). So what does that mean? An “I think I can” attitude and being ready to actually make the change can make all the difference. How do you really know that you are serious about your fitness change? One way to find out what stage of readiness you are in is the Readiness to Change Questionnaire.
Answer the questions starting on page 2 to find out how ready you are to start exercising: http://vermontfitness.org/documents/stagesofchange.pdf.
3. Focus on fitness, not just weight loss. While healthy weight loss is great and many studies show that there is a direct relationship between waist circumference and certain disease, don’t let the scale dampen your accomplishment. The truth is the pounds are probably not just going to roll off the second you start exercising, but exercise is going to greatly reduce your risk of disease so keep it up even when you want to throw your scale out the window.
4. Have someone make you accountable. I have said it before and I will say it again, people just do better when they are held accountable. In one study done by a group of psychologists trying to learn more about resolutions, they found that 54% of their sample who were originally not planning on making a resolution went from possibly thinking about making a change to actually making a change after four weeks and only three phone calls from the researchers (Norcross,J., 1995). This led the researchers to believe that the pending phone calls made have played a role in their choice to make changes.
5. Make a family resolution. There is a good chance that if you need to make lifestyle changes, so does your family so why not make the change together? Dinners will be easier to change if everyone is on board. Also, you can get out and exercise as a family making it easier to keep on track and you can enjoy the new found time you have with one anther. There are many studies that focus on the importance of family fitness, but one study done on the impact of healthy significant others showed that young women with a health conscious significant other were more likely to exercise more than 3 hours per week and eat more than 5 servings of fruits and veggies in a day (Berge, J., 2012).
Berge JM, MacLehose R, Eisenberg ME, Laska MN, Neumark-Sztainer D. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012 Apr 2;9:35. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-9-35. How significant is the ‘significant other’? Associations between significant others’ health behaviors and attitudes and young adults’ health outcomes.
Norcross JC, Mrykalo MS, Blagys MD. J Clin Psychol. 2002 Apr;58(4):397-405.Auld lang syne: success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. Department of Psychology, University of Scranton, PA 18510-4596, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org