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Health & Balance

10 Ways to Make Your New Year's Resolutions Stick

10 ways to stay strong in the face of tempting cupcakes, pricey shoes, and the urge to hit the snooze button instead of the gym.
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4. Lift Your Spirits

Watching funny movies — or doing just about anything that puts you in a good mood — also helps when willpower starts wearing down. In a particularly sneaky study, researchers asked a group of 30 hungry students to sit in a room that smelled like freshly baked cookies. Although a plate of M&Ms and still-warm cookies was placed within reach, participants were told to snack on a bowl of radishes. Then they were left alone for 10 to 12 minutes in order to exhaust their self-restraint.

Next, some of the students watched a film clip of Robin Williams doing stand-up, while another group viewed a film about dolphins. When, in the last part of the experiment, they were asked to perform a complex tracing project that called for lots of self-control, students who'd seen the funny film stuck with the trying task for about 13 minutes. The Flipper crowd hung in for only nine.

5. Have Some OJ

Self-restraint — stifling your disagreement during a politically charged discussion, for example — can reduce blood glucose to less-than-optimal levels, report Florida State University researchers. But a glass of orange juice or lemonade can replenish your self-control. The brain relies almost exclusively on glucose for energy, so it has to be the real thing — artificially sweetened drinks won't deliver the jolt.

6. Outwit Your Inner Rebel

To give your willpower some wiggle room, avoid making 100 percent resolutions. "Absolutes like 'I'm giving up all sweets' or 'I'll never use my credit card again' set you up to try to get around your own overly strict rules," says Connie Stapleton, Ph.D., a psychologist in Augusta, GA. Instead, try drafting more limited restrictions like "I'll have sweets only when I'm in a fancy restaurant."

7. Crank Up Your Greatest Hits

When you feel discouraged, remind yourself how much you've accomplished in the past, suggests Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D. "People beat themselves up about still needing to lose the baby weight or no longer going to yoga class. But they overlook the long list of things they have done that required major self-discipline, like building a nest egg or sticking with the computer training they needed in order to get a better job." Lombardo's advice: "Write down 100 things you're proud of, right down to 'I get out of bed when I don't want to.' It'll remind you how much willpower you really have."

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