The beginning of the new year is a great time to make a fresh start, and for many Americans, that means attempting to write a new chapter in the health and wellness department. But a staggering 80% of the resolutions set at midnight on the last day of the year fizzle out by the second week of February. So here we are, almost to Spring Break, potentially trying to regroup and possibly feeling guilty about what we perceive as failure to follow through with our grand New Year’s plans. How about attempting a Resolution Reboot? Here are a few ways to make sure that you’ll be committed to your healthy pursuits—and will make them a permanent part of your life.
1. Make a list, check it twice
Simply vowing to “be healthier” in 2022 probably won’t cut it. It’s best to be specific about the health and wellness goals you’d like to set for yourself. There are many important components of a healthy lifestyle— from adding more vegetables to your plate or exercising frequently, to sleeping better and drinking more water. It can be overwhelming to think about tackling all of them at once. By making a list of your personal health goals, you can get a better sense of your biggest priorities—and focus your attention in a ranking order. Maybe go back and look at your top 1 or 2 resolutions. Can you work on the 1st one? Then, once that change has become routine, give the 2nd one a whirl.
2. You’re not alone
It’s OK to get some help along the way—from healthcare professionals and also from loved ones. Nutritionists, physical therapists and other healthcare practitioners have the background and training to help you achieve a healthier lifestyle. For example, if you aim to be more physically active, a physical therapist can help you set realistic goals and will prescribe a home exercise program to help you safely build strength and endurance. A nutritionist or dietary counselor can help you to take a look at your pantry and your shopping list and give you suggestions on where and how to adjust. And your loved ones can pitch in by providing moral support and by helping to create and maintain an environment that helps you achieve your goals.
3. Stay engaged and follow through
No one ever said that change is easy. In fact, even what seem like they should be the smallest of adjustments—like going to bed half an hour earlier every night or walking for 15 minutes every day—take discipline and sometimes sacrifice. By planning in advance and knowing what obstacles you could face, you can make sure that your goals are still met. For example, is there rain in the forecast tomorrow? Plan to walk with a friend at an indoor mall instead of choosing to sit on the couch and wait for better weather. Does time get away from you in the evenings while you are accomplishing tasks like checking email or watching your favorite Netflix series? Give yourself a curfew and set an alarm to remind you when you’ve got 1 hour left before the bedtime you’ve created for yourself. This will cue you to shut things down and start the pre-sleep rituals that will have you ready to start getting more Zs.
If you find that you’ve lost your motivation or fallen off track, experts say that you don’t need to wait until next year to resolve to be healthier! A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that Mondays are the best day of the week to celebrate a new beginning—and because they come every week, there are 52 chances a year to press the reset button. So, don’t get discouraged by the inevitable minor setback—instead, dust yourself off and get back at it.
Think of each Monday as the “New Year of the Week”. Doing this repeatedly can help to tease new health initiatives into regular habits. Consider family or friend group initiatives like “Meatless Monday”, or the “Monday Mile Walk Challenge”. Setting and meeting mini-goals promotes a sense of accomplishment that can then be parlayed into more positive choices. You’ve got this – go do it!