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Resolutions that Stick

September 3, 2013

Originally published Dec. 27, 2011

Fifty-seven percent of PHPOLL responders said they will give healthy gifts this holiday season. Perhaps those gifts can be used to keep the recipients’ New Year’s resolutions on track. On January 1, close to half of all American adults will set a New Year’s resolution. The routine is the same year after year: we set the resolutions and start off strong and committed, feeling sure that this year will be different from every other year. But, unfortunately, come February, most of us will have abandoned our goals altogether. 

This does not mean we should abandon the act of setting New Year’s resolutions. In fact, with over 65 percent of adult Georgians considered overweight or obese and close to 17 percent of Georgians smoking, resolutions can be a great way to jumpstart a new outlook on health. 

Before setting a resolution, it is important to understand why they tend to fail year after year. Often, it is because we set resolutions that are vague and tough to attain. Instead, people hoping to keep their resolutions, whether they are to lose weight, quit smoking, reduce stress or something else, should follow six guidelines to success.

First, set a realistic goal. Declaring “I want to lose 50 pounds by summer,” is not realistic for most people. Instead, focus on losing a healthy and reasonable one to one and a half pounds per week and do so by setting a plan of action that will lead to the weight loss. Plan out you healthy meals for the week and write down your workouts. Resolve to stop buying snacks from the vending machine or vow to take the stairs. Small tangible actions will add up to your ultimate goal of weight loss.

Plan for obstacles. Do you have numerous deadlines at work that might keep you from getting to the gym one week? Plan ahead and complete your workout before heading to the office or fit it in during your lunch break. Figure out how to overcome the obstacle facing you and do not give up if you do slip.

Track your progress. Keep a journal of the steps you are taking to stick to your resolution. Seeing your progress is incredibly motivating, helping you stay focused and recover from slip-ups.

Get support from others. Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., Commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH) has exciting plans to start a worksite wellness program for DPH. Many employers offer worksite wellness plans. The worksite wellness programs and support of your friends and coworkers will help you stay on track by keeping you accountable and helping motivate you toward your goal.

When you reach milestones along your journey, give yourself a reward such as a healthy treat. Celebrating your achievements will help keep you excited about and focused on your main goal. 

Finally, keep it interesting. Did you resolve to include more healthy produce in your meals? Try fruits and vegetables that are new to you or experiment with new recipes. Stay engaged with your ultimate resolution and you’ll beat the odds against sticking with it. 

DPH is committed to improving the health and well-being of all Georgians and a healthy New Year’s resolution is a great way to kick off a year of healthy living!