New Year’s Resolutions: Why They Work or Fail

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It is almost that time of the year again where people would start taking a good look at their lives and resolve to change things in the coming year.  It doesn’t matter what it is – lose weight, acquire a new hobby, stop smoking or other resolutions; people typically lists their resolutions before the year starts, hoping each time that they’d be able to keep it.  Unfortunately, they probably haven’t even started on last year’s resolutions. So, they’re recycling the same resolutions this coming year.  Maybe you’re having the same problem.


Resolutions That You Will Likely Keep or Forget

In the past few years, you’ve probably had the same resolutions, and you probably know that you don’t always keep them. Here are a few common resolutions that people often have every year.  Sometimes, they are able to keep it, but more often than not, they just forget about it.

1. Go on a Diet

After gaining a lot of weight over the holidays, people are more resolved to go on a diet the following year.  Weight loss experts will tell you, however, that dieting rarely works.  It is especially hard for people with unhealthy eating habits.

Typically, diets will work for a while and then you’ll find it incredibly difficult to stick to the regulated plan.  Eventually, you will likely go back to what you were eating pretty much before. You end up gaining back all the weight.

So, how do you keep this resolution?

By simply making small changes that you can do.  It is hard to stick to a diet that is drastically different from what you used to eat.  So, give up that soda, and you will save 150 calories. Instead of eating muffins, just grab a bowl of oatmeal. Don’t drink your usual latte.  These little changes can help you lose weight without forcing you to go on a diet.

2. Stop Smoking

Now, this is definitely you need to do.  This may be your yearly resolution, but it is definitely high time that you stick to it.  There is really no perfect day for stopping.  You just do it.  But how do you do it?  How do stick to your resolution?  Here’s how:



3. Exercise

This is another common resolution, but people find it so hard to actually do it.  It is easy to make, but incredibly hard to start.  You can probably do it a few weeks, and then you start to let yourself slide because you’re too tired or too busy. So, how do you keep this resolution?  You need to replace your old habits.  Make sure to start activities that you’d enjoy doing for a long time. You can also find a workout buddy.  Having a workout buddy makes it easier to stick to your exercise plan.  Eventually, exercise will be a no-matter-what activity.  You wouldn’t even have to think about doing it.  You just do it.

4. Lose 10 Pounds or 20 Pounds

It’s always that last 10 or 20 pounds that you just can’t seem to lose, right?  It is incredibly hard to keep the “I’m going to lose 20 pounds by June” resolution.  So, how do you keep it?  Experts say to avoid attaching a number to your goal.  What you need to do is to cut out 500 calories to your diet, and burn 250 calories a day with exercise.  Continue to keep at it – month in, month out.

 

 


5. Stop a Bad Habit

It could be nail biting or hair twirling or some other bad habit.  You probably have been doing this for so long. You probably do not even realize when you’re doing it.  In order to stick to your resolution, you need to be aware of cues that trigger your habits. Experts suggest that you need to be aware of the underlying reasons for these habits in order to eliminate them.

 

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Basically, here’s how resolutions work: you keep it for two beautiful weeks, but by the third week, you start backsliding.  You can sustain it for a couple of months, but by the third month, you would likely be back to where you started.  Why do you keep failing?

According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology by researcher John Norcross, about 50% make resolutions each year.  Many of the common resolutions include: weight loss, exercise, stop smoking, money management, debt reduction and other similar resolutions.

Timothy Pychyl of Carleton University in Canada regard resolutions are a form of “cultural procrastination”.  These resolutions are a way for people to motivate themselves.  Unfortunately, people are not ready to change their habits.  This is why they ultimately fail in their attempts.  The goals are often unrealistic when they are not ready for the change.  This can be likened to making positive affirmations about yourself that you don’t believe yourself.

Another possible reason is the cause and effect relationship.  People assume that by making these changes, their lives will improve for the better.  But when it doesn’t, they feel discouraged and they revert back to old habits.

Making resolutions would require changing behaviors.  In order to do that, you have to change your thinking.  Habitual behaviors are ingrained thinking patterns.  When you try to change them by thinking that you shouldn’t do them, you just end up strengthening these behaviors.  You need to create new patterns of thinking in order to be able to change your behavior.

How to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions


Thanks to brain science and behavioral research, you can now use science to stick to your resolutions and stay on track.  Here are some tips on how to keep your resolutions:

1. Write down your goals is critical.  You need to do this in order to accomplish your goals.

2. Connect your goals to things that are meaningful to you.  You are more likely to keep your resolutions if they mean something to you.  You will likely stay on track if you enjoy or you find what you do interesting.  If these goals are important to you, you won’t likely give up on them.

For instance, thinking about your resolution to lose weight.  Why do you want to lose weight?  Is it for self-worth?  Is it because you want to be healthy to do the things you want to do?  Is it because you want to feel more attractive?  Whatever your reason is, it will connect you to your goals and to the likelihood of you achieving these goals.

3. Break your resolutions into smaller achievable milestones. Your resolutions, especially if they are long-term goals, are rarely achieved in one go.  You need to break them into smaller achievable milestones.  Every small milestone will give you a clear sense of progress.  Every milestone achieved will keep you motivated.

You need to create immediate, specific and urgent milestones.  There should be a clear urgency.  Getting started is the most important task.  It may be hard to “lose a pound every week, but you can definitely “consume 2000 calories a week or less”.

4. Let people know about your goals. By telling people about your goals, you strengthen the likelihood that you will succeed.  This works only when the goals are verifiable. When you tell people, you commit more to your goals. You don’t want to fail in front of them.  You also get the support that you need.

5. Keep going!  It can be difficult to sustain your efforts toward achieving your goals, and maybe you can drop the ball or experience setbacks.  When this happens, just keep on going.  While your “cheat day” may have turned into a “cheat month”, you can always resume dieting.  It doesn’t have to end. Just keep going. Always make a fresh start because you never run out of them.

Does the Holiday Season Mean Weight Gain?


The holiday season is officially here.  It’s that time of the year where you decorate, shop, entertain and eat.  There are just so many parties and festivities.  Not surprisingly, it is that time of the year where you put on weight.  It is commonly reported that the people gain about 5 pounds during the holidays.

Normal weight individuals gain about a pound a year over the holidays.  This may not seem a lot, but apparently, people do not lose that weight.  So, year after year, the holiday weight accumulates. This eventually leads to all sorts of health issues like obesity, heart ailments and diabetes. It’s the same for everyone even kids, especially overweight kids.  Unfortunately, people don’t exercise enough to lose those extra pounds.

This holiday season might not be the best time to lose that extra weight, but you don’t have to wait until New Year to start losing weight. Just make sure that you enjoy your egg nog, cookies, turkey and pumpkin pie in moderation.

 

Image Credit:
Fourteen 2014 New Year's Resolutions for Progressives via huffingtonpost.com
best diet plan to lose weight via lepfitness.co.uk
#SportThursday - How Much Exercise Do You Need? via achievett.org
Can You Use LSD to Stop Smoking? via quitsmokingcommunity.org
A Healthier You With a New Year's Resolution via absopure.com

 

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