New Year’s resolutions solutions

Experts suggest ways to stick with plan instead of going off rails

Posted 12/31/18

Meant to be proactive, healthy and good for one’s well-being, New Year’s resolutions can be daunting, challenging, and most of the time don’t last long. According to Business Insider, 80 …

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New Year’s resolutions solutions

Experts suggest ways to stick with plan instead of going off rails

Posted

Meant to be proactive, healthy and good for one’s well-being, New Year’s resolutions can be daunting, challenging, and most of the time don’t last long. According to Business Insider, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.

In 2019, 41 percent of Coloradans want to save money and 27 percent want to travel. The two New Year’s resolutions topped the list in a survey conducted by Offers.com, an online marketplace that studies business trends. Next down the list were exercising more, getting a new job or hobby and finding love.

Reasons for giving up on these goals vary from feeling overwhelmed to absence of a plan to lack of support. But with the right mindset and a few tips from health and wellness experts, goals for the New Year can be achieved.

Give it time

In an era of nonstop social media and virtual connectedness, instant gratification is oftentimes expected. That can be a roadblock when completing a New Year’s resolution, said Dru Connolly, who runs the fitness department at the Highlands Ranch Community Association.

“It’s not something that’s going to happen quickly,” Connolly said. “It takes a while to make it part of your lifestyle.”

She sees a surge in people exercising at HRCA’s four recreation centers in the first few weeks of the new year. Then the numbers tend to trickle off.

It takes 21 days to form a habit, Connolly said. To fully adopt a lifestyle change takes about 60 days. Connolly encourages residents to stick with their exercise goals, even if it means starting with two to three workouts a week or a quick workout at home.

The American Psychological Association has similar advice. Start small, the association says. If the goal is to exercise more, schedule three or four days a week at the gym instead of seven. If the goal is to eat healthier, replace dessert with something enjoyable like fruit, instead of attempting a restrictive diet.

Plan accordingly

Making a change isn’t easy. Mental Health America reports that 60 percent of people who achieve their New Year’s resolutions mess up at least once before succeeding.

Heather Aardema, a national board certified health and wellness coach from Wheat Ridge, sees it in her practice. Recently, she had a client express concerns about losing weight with the upcoming holidays.

Aardema has a list of tips to make New Year’s resolutions — or goals in general — less intimidating.

“New Year’s resolutions can be tremendously powerful and life-changing,” she said, “if they are done right.”

First, prepare for a goal by forming a strategic plan. Suddenly starting a starvation diet becomes hard really fast, Aardema said. She recommends taking a character strength survey at www.viacharacter.org. From there, an individual can develop a plan based on his or her strong qualities.

Aardema’s strengths, for example, are zest, self-regulation and love.

“I use those character strengths to overcome my challenges and hurtles,” she said. “Embrace your strengths when you’re taking on New Year’s resolution. After six months it gets easier, becomes more robotic — you no longer have to think about it.”

Share with others

Sharing New Year’s resolutions with a spouse, family member or friend holds a person accountable, Aardema said.

“If you don’t tell people about your goals,” she said, “it makes it a lot easier to quit.”

Being open with others about goals and life changes builds confidence, commitment and will power, health and wellness organizations say. The American Psychological Association recommends joining a support group when striving for a major life change, such as quitting smoking or upping an exercise routine.

“Having someone to share your struggles and successes with makes your journey to a healthier lifestyle that much easier and less intimidating,” the association says.

And if support from a social circle isn’t doing the trick, a therapist or psychologist is another great option. Sometimes, a lifestyle change requires the help of a professional who is trained in areas of behavior or mental health, the American Psychological Association says.

Health and wellness experts agree on one thing: quitting on a New Year’s resolution isn’t the answer. Though it may not be as simple as imagined, it’s possible to make a goal for 2019 last longer than one month.

“Make it an endurance event,” Aardema said. “Believe that you’re worthy of getting there.”

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