Guide to a Year of Fresh Starts
Like many Americans, you may be thinking about or even planning to make some healthy lifestyle changes in 2016. Perhaps you are embarking on a new exercise program, setting your sights on an athletic endeavor, committing to healthy eating, or contemplating other health-related goals. Either way, developing new habits takes motivation, action, and time. Here are a few foundational steps to guide you in being successful.
1. Choose a habit, or habits, you feel most ready to change.
Think about a change you feel most ready to make, or especially motivated to achieve. Don’t waste your time on resolutions that you don’t yet have much confidence in achieving. Set those aside for when you feel more ready.
2. Realistically challenge yourself.
Successful resolutions require goals. Too often we set forth on our mission without a clear purpose, or our ambitions are so unrealistic that we drop them without giving ourselves a real chance. Be realistic while also challenging yourself. Establish two or three goals and go for it.
3. Be specific in your new healthy lifestyle plan.
A goal without a plan is little more than words on paper. Define a clear path and be committed in your mission. Use strong language such as, “I am…” and “I will…” For example, “I will run for 30 minutes three days per week.” Be solid and strategic in your planning.
4. Create an environment that supports your resolutions.
If you want to boost the health quotient of your diet, set up your surroundings to enable your success. Keep fruits, vegetables, healthy snacks, and other whole foods within easy reach, and tempting foods out of reach and out of sight. Make healthy eating easy and the default choice in your home.
5. Build support.
You don’t have to go it alone. Garner the support of friends, family, co-workers, and others who may be willing make resolutions with you, or to simply provide support and encouragement from the sidelines.
6. Anticipate some inconsistency.
All or nothing is one way to approach things. At the same time, behavior change is usually met with some inconsistency. You might go back to your old habit(s) sometimes. This is normal! Keep your eye on your overall goal(s) and realize the road to get there may take some twists and turns. Be prepared to take them on.
7. Track and sustain your efforts.
Keeping track of endeavors on a calendar, in a notebook, on a website or with an app affirms resolutions and keeps the spark alive. Learning new healthy lifestyle habits is like learning any other new skill. Be patient, stay positive, and sustain your efforts.
Wishing you a year of successful fresh starts.