Seven tips to help you achieve your New Year’s health goals

... and make them stick

 

1. — Make One Change at a Time — Once you understand that you have only a limited amount of willpower, it’s easy to understand why multiple resolutions aren’t likely to work, says Ian Newby-Clark, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Guelph in Canada. Most resolutions actually require a clear decision to make behavior or lifestyle changes.

2. — Find Your Motivation — What is motivating you to attain your goal? Do you want to feel more energetic, or simply improve your health? Get clear about what you want, and then use that to inspire you throughout your journey.

3. — Have a Plan — If  you were to go on a long road trip, you wouldn’t just jump in the car and go. If you did, you’d arrive hungry, tired, and fatigued. That’s the same way you’d feel if you jumped into a whole new lifestyle with no planning. Before January 1st arrives, outline the changes you want to implement and decide how you’ll fit them into your schedule. Keep in mind that it may be best to take steps rather than tackle everything at once.

4. — Make Goals —  Goals help measure progress. If you don’t know where you want to end up, you won't really know how to get there. When making your goals, you need to make SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

For example, a SMART goal would be something like, “I will walk for 15 minutes 3 days for one week.” Or, “I will prepare one new healthy recipe each week for the month of January.”

5. — Use Reliable Resources — It may be tempting to try a fad diet, but these are usually unrealistic, difficult to maintain, and sometimes even dangerous. Instead, find a reliable source of information to help you understand nutrition. The USDA offers a number of tools and resources, or you can consult a registered dietitian in your area. An RD is specially trained and can give you tips and tricks to help you achieve your specific goals.

6. — Break It Up — Since your supply of self-control is finite, make resolutions that require small acts of will, not weeks of vigilance. “ ‘Lose 10 pounds’sounds specific, but it’s less likely to work than behavioral goals like ‘This week I’ll try to go to the gym three times, take the stairs at work at least twice, and bring a healthy lunch every day,’ ” says Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., a psychologist in private practice in Washington, DC, and author of the “Baggage Check” column for the Washington Post Express. You’ll feel good when you accomplish each goal, and your success will help bolster your resolve: The better you are at making small changes, the easier it will be for you to keep going.

7. — Lift Your Spirits — Watching funny movies — or doing just about anything that puts you in a good mood — also helps when willpower starts wearing down.

Adapted from http://www.webmd.com and http://www.fitday.com

* On behalf of the Medical Trust Wellness team we wish you and yours a blessed holiday season and a healthy and peaceful 2013! *

This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be professional medical advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of a health care professional with any questions about personal health care status, and prior to making changes in approaches to diet and exercise. This material is for informational purposes only and is not a guarantee of coverage under any Episcopal Church Medical Trust (“ECMT”) health plan. To determine what services are covered under an ECMT health plan, the corresponding Plan Handbook should be reviewed carefully. In the event of a conflict between this information contained in this email and the official Plan documents (schedule of benefits, Summary Plan Description, booklet, booklet-certificate), the official Plan documents will govern. Unless otherwise noted, websites referenced herein that are outside the www.cpg.org  domain are not associated with the ECMT and its affiliates (collectively, the “Church Pension Group”) and the Church Pension Group is not responsible for the content of any such website. All quotations are used with permission.

Photo: Shamli071 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons