Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Making and keeping your 2008 New Year resolutions

The holiday feasts are over and a new year has begun. Many of you have probably made resolutions to improve your health. This includes losing weight, eating healthfully, and exercising regularly. It is easy to say that you will make all those changes. But how do you keep your resolutions without getting frustrated by February? Below are some tips to successful wellness:

1. Create measurable goals.
That means attaching time, numbers and amounts to your goals. Goals that are not measurable are too vague, difficult to achieve and usually forgotten. Here are some examples:

- Immeasurable Goal: Exercise more
- Measurable goal: Exercise 4 times a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:00 am.

- Immeasurable Goal: Eat more fruit
- Measurable goal: Have 4 fruits each day – 1 at breakfast, 1 at lunch, 1 at mid-afternoon snack and 1 for dessert.

2. Make your goals reasonable and achievable.
If you make unrealistic goals, you are setting yourself up for failure. When you can meet your goals, you feel motivated. This also incorporates creating measurable goals. For example,

- Unrealistic goal: I will stop eating fatty foods.
- Realistic goal: I will limit fat intake to 25% of my total diet, and reduce saturated fat intake to less than 10% of total fat.

3. Schedule your exercise goals
Make your exercise goals part of your life in the same manner you schedule meetings, appointments and dates. If your goal is to exercise 4 times a week, make time for your work-out in advance. Put it on your Blackberry, PDA and Outlook calendar. Do not cancel your exercise appointments with yourself.

4. Get friends and family involved.
It is highly motivating when you eat healthfully and exercise with friends and family. This is great for both social and wellness goals. Here are some examples:

- Cook healthy meals for your friends and family. Show them how tasty a balanced eating plan can be.
- Start a healthy eating dinner club where once a week you rotate between homes and the host prepares a special meal. Or guests bring a dish from an assigned food group that is incorporated into a healthy meal.
- Exercise with friends and family. After dinner, go for a long, brisk walk or bike ride together. Schedule weekend games of Frisbee, softball, basketball, tennis or soccer. Go to exercise classes with workmates regularly.

5. Create a contract with yourself.
Your goals are not real until you write it down. As stated above, make sure the goals are measurable. Write down all details including amounts, dates and times. And don’t forget to sign the contract and have it witnessed by a close friend or family member. Lastly, post your contract so that you can see it daily.

6. Stay motivated
There may be times when life gets in the way of achieving your goal. That doesn’t mean that you have to throw away the contract. If you go off-course, take a good look at your goal. Is it realistic and achievable? What are your roadblocks? Do you need to revise it? After reviewing and possibly changing your goal, create a new contract and get back on the road to wellness.

I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year!