About half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions, vowing to lose weight, exercise more, kick tobacco, or eat healthier. While research shows that only about 8 out of every 100 people actually achieve their goals, there are ways to up your success rate, says Kaiser Permanente’s Mindy Boccio, MPH, a senior consultant in health education. Here are some suggestions.
1. Get clear on why you’re making the change
Ask yourself how this change will benefit your life and support your values. For example, the deeper reason for deciding to quit smoking may be that you want to be a healthy role model for your children. Understanding that can boost your motivation initially and help you stay on track when you hit the inevitable rough patch.
2. Be specific about the change you want to make
Research shows that the more specific you are, the better. For example: “I want to walk for 15 minutes 3 times a week.” Start with a goal you know you can accomplish. You can increase the challenge later.
3. Share your goals
Getting support from family and friends has been shown to help us make lasting changes. It’s also good to partner with someone who’s making the same behavior change. You can keep each other accountable, and the camaraderie helps too.
4. Track your progress
Logging your achievements keeps your goal fresh in your mind and makes it easy to see where course corrections are needed. Simply mark the days you exercise on a calendar, or put technology to use with an app. A couple good health-related choices are My Fitness Pal and Lose It!
5. When the going gets tough, consider your options
Let’s say your resolution is to cut back on sweets, and someone offers you a piece of cake. You can eat the cake. You can step away for a few minutes and see if your craving for the cake goes away. You can decide to have a small piece and do more walking that day to burn the additional calories.
6. Silence the negative self-talk
If you slip up on your resolutions, don’t be overly critical of yourself. Instead, talk to yourself like you would to a friend. Acknowledge the setback and what you learned, then focus on getting back on track.
7. Get help from Kaiser Permanente
As a Kaiser Permanente Washington member, you have access to a variety of programs and resources to help you keep your healthy-living resolutions for the long haul. You may be eligible for discounts on fitness clubs, exercise videos, and fitness equipment. The Quit for Life program provides tools to help you quit tobacco use. And you’ll find other wellness tools and information at kp.org/wa.