Did you stick with the New Year's resolutions you make last year? Do you even remember what they were? If you're like many people, those resolutions went by the wayside by late January.
But don't blame your lack of willpower—the problem was probably the resolutions themselves. This year, try these tips for making resolutions that last.
Be specific and put it in writing. Resolutions to "lose weight, "eat better" or "get fit" are too vague to act on. Instead, set specific goals such as "I'll cut calories by having a piece of fruit for dessert instead of my usual bowl of ice cream three times a week" or "I'll attend the yoga class at the recreation center on Saturday mornings." Write down your goals in a journal or post them on the fridge where you see them every day.
Never say never. You probably won't stick with a resolution to "never again" eat chocolate or another favorite food. Instead, set realistic goals such as swapping your daily full-size candy bar for a "fun" size bar or a couple of chocolate kisses, or putting a serving of chips in a bowl instead of eating several servings out of the bag.
Never say always. On the other hand, resolving to run five miles every day when you haven't been active for a long time is both unrealistic and unsafe. Instead, build healthy new habits a step at a time by setting small goals and building up from there. For instance, start with a 10- or 15-minute walk three days a week and increase your time or number of days every few weeks. (If you're a man older than 40 or woman older than 50 with health problems or at risk for health problems, ask your doctor for a safe and effective exercise program for you.)
Spend time to save time. Invest some time in planning to help make your resolutions easier to keep. Map out the week's meals and snacks and make a shopping list so you have everything on hand. If your goal is to find time to eat a healthy breakfast, set the table and put out cereal boxes and other non-perishables the night before. Schedule your walk or exercise class right in your calendar and set out your workout clothes or pack your gym bag the night before.
Make it easy on yourself. Take advantage of little helpers like these for eating well and being active:
Double recipes for soups, stews and chili and freeze half for another time. Round out the meal with a salad made from pre-washed bagged lettuce and whole-grain rolls.
Stock up on convenient items such as canned beans, quick-cooking brown rice, and frozen or canned fruits and vegetables to speed meal preparation.
Buy individual bags of precut fruit or veggies to tote to work for an afternoon snack.
Pick up "100 calorie" packages of chips, cookies, crackers and other treats to help with portion control—or portion out your own in sealable plastic bags.
Buy an exercise DVD to follow at home when you can't make it to your regular class.