It’s an all too familiar story: making the resolution to a more healthy lifestyle on January 1 and giving up on said resolution before the end of the month. How do we stay motivated and dedicated to achieving our health goals? Try these tips:
1. Eliminate “all or none” thinking. Realize that we are going to slip up and just because we do does not mean that the day/month/year is shot. Do not give up on your healthy aspirations just because you ate a cookie (or several!), or abandoned your exercise plan for a few days. Like the song says, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again!
2. Take baby steps. I’m not sure what you do, but my plans always end up very complex and elaborate. I think that I can go from a relatively sedentary activity level to climbing mountains in a matter of a month…and liking it! Not a realistic, achievable, or enjoyable goal. When planning out your health resolutions, think incrementally. If a daily 2 mile walk is your goal, go for a quarter of that distance three days a week, and gradually add more distance and more days as time goes by. Baby steps will help you to make your goal achievable and a permanent part of your daily routine.
3. Make new habits. Old habits die hard, and it seems like giving birth to new ones is equally difficult. The key is to set yourself up for success with the development of a routine. I don’t remember a time when brushing my teeth was not a part of my bedtime routine. I’m sure it was an activity that was reinforced by my parents over and over again. Now, not brushing my teeth before bed would just seem strange. It has become a habit by repetition through the years. We all have various means for reminding ourselves to do something that is not a part of our daily routine: iphone calendar reminder, notes stuck to the refrigerator door, a phone message that you leave for yourself. Think about ways that you can prompt yourself to adapt your new resolutions as part of your daily routine. Once that habit forms, it will be almost as effortless as brushing your teeth!