New Year’s resolutions have almost become a joke in modern society – everybody makes one, but very few actually keep them and follow through with their plan. For many people, a New Year’s resolution involves improving health, kicking old habits like smoking, losing weight, improving physical appearance or something similar. All good goals, no doubt, but why do they always seem to fail?
In some cases, the problem is that the goal was poorly defined, had no deadline, was unrealistic, or just didn’t appropriately match the actual needs of the individual. However, even with proper goal-setting techniques, the best New Year’s resolutions fail due to a lack of the knowledge and resources necessary for completing the goal. Here are five tips that should help you make your resolution a reality.
1. Plan and facilitate exercise sessions in advance
Getting yourself motivated to exercise can be tough, especially if you’re not already in the habit of doing it regularly. Do everything you can in advance of your workouts to preemptively eliminate roadblocks and excuses. For example, if your plan is to exercise each morning before you go to work, lay out your exercise clothing and gear wherever you plan to work out. This way, when you wake up feeling groggy and tempted to skip your workout, you’ll feel more compelled to follow through since all the extraneous details are taken care of.
2. Don’t forget about sleep
When you’re trying to reach a fitness or weight loss goal, it can be tempting to skip sleep in order to allow more time for exercise and cooking healthier meals. You’re not doing yourself any favors, however, as studies show that sleep is key to weight loss. In fact, getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night for several nights in a row, even while dieting and exercising, could greatly mitigate your rate of fat loss while expediting loss of muscle tissue.
3. Know that alcohol is high in calories
Too often, fitness seekers reward themselves for a day of hard work with a night of drinking. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with occasional, moderate drinking (in fact, many studies show that a single glass of wine or beer per day can benefit your cardiovascular system), it’s important to realize that alcohol is jam-packed with calories. A shot of liquor or a light beer usually has about 100 calories, a glass of wine packs about 120, and a non-light beer can have upwards of 150. A mixed drink with two shots of alcohol and regular soda could easily contain nearly 400 calories, about the same as a double cheeseburger! Some of the best New Year’s resolutions cut empty calories like excess alcohol.
4. Put healthy recipes in regular rotation
Coming up with a different healthy recipe every night of the week is difficult, not to mention expensive because it requires so many ingredients. Instead, choose a few healthy recipes you enjoy, preferably with limited perishable ingredients, and make them regularly. Keep the ingredients on hand so you don’t have to do any extensive shopping each time you’d like to make the recipe. Create your own subtle variations on the recipes to add variety and make use of ingredients in your pantry.
5. Don’t skip eating out, just do it smarter
It’s unrealistic to say that you’ll “never” eat out as a component of your New Year’s resolution. You can still have lunches with friends, a romantic evening with your spouse or even take-out when there’s just no time to cook, so long as you do it wisely. A salad is a typical go-to meal for dieters at a restaurant, but watch out for calorie-laden toppings like fried chicken, cheese and rich, creamy dressings. A Greek salad with a vinaigrette dressing on the side is a much better option because it gets its flavor from healthy ingredients like olives. Aside from salads, pay attention to how meals are cooked. Opt for steamed and grilled entrees as opposed to ones that are sauteed or fried in butter and oil.
The Bottom Line
You can turn your best New Year’s resolutions into a reality so long as your goal is realistic. The key is to take specific steps that will make achieving your goals easier. As with many things in life, you can spend a little time now to save yourself a lot of time and frustration later.