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home : health : health January 16, 2018

12/26/2017 12:11:00 PM
New Year's resolutions
By Andrew Loscutoff

Christmas is in the rear-view mirror; soon it will be New Year's.

It's time to partake in the American tradition of retrospection about the past year, and vows to improve in the coming year. We're swearing off the indulgent foods and lack of exercise once the new year begins. 2018 will be a milestone of personal health and fitness.

If this sort of talk sounds familiar, it's because there are millions of others doing the same thing. New Year's resolutions are often dreamt during the blood-sugar spikes of the holiday eating and the ball dropping on an alcohol-infused night of celebrating an arbitrary date on the calendar referred to as New Year's.

Some 27 percent of resolutions involve health and fitness, which often involve a diet and exercise plan aggressively positioned to succeed. The stats of success, however, are rather bleak. Only 8 percent of these goals are met, according to Forbes Magazine. The discrepancy between aspiration and actualization often falls on arbitrary goals without proper planning or tactics for execution.

Making the proclamation that you're going to lose weight and eat better is so vague that any confirmation bias can be actualized. Eating "better" can mean hundreds of different things. Eating organic bacon instead of regular? Vegan chocolate cake?

Some practical tips might increase your odds of success this resolution season.

Stair-step goals:

Just as the pyramids were built one stone at a time, goals need to be structured the same way. If you're not exercising at all, perhaps 10 minutes a day is the goal to make in the first two weeks. Frequency should be high (to establish a habitual routine) and duration should be low (to help with compliance).

The same goes for diet. Elimination of 100 calories a day will result in 10 pounds of weight loss over the course of a year (about the amount of calories in a piece of bread). Start with adding one more vegetable and fruit a day and taking away just one calorie-laden food.

Be specific and thorough: Everyone wants to exercise more and eat less. This is a good start but it's just the beginning. Establishing a work-around for common sticking points will be essential. Going on vacation in January? Where are the safe places to eat nearby and when will exercise happen? Plan and prepare.

Not all success needs to be a fairy tale: Growing up in the "you can be whatever you want to be" generation may leave millennials disillusioned about the realities of the world, but many people actually fall to the same fallacy. Their utopian New Year's resolutions are too big a piece of pie-in-the-sky. Losing 50 pounds? Exercising for an hour every day?

Goals like that are hardly ever realized - and falling short can be discouraging and counterproductive. How about taking the approach many savings experts say is the best way to sock away for retirement? A little at a time adds up to a fortune with compounding interest. Make a small change and the ripple effect will soon have other changes coming easier and easier.

Use these tools to prepare for resolutions that actually make sense. When taken one step at a time, with a thorough vision - and realistic goals - a resolution can stick.

You might even find it easy.

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