New Year's Resolutions, 1 Month Later
10 ways to make your diet and fitness resolutions last
Lose weight. Eat healthy foods. Exercise daily. If you're like many people,
you made these or similar pledges during the annual New Year's Day ritual of
resolving to improve our health. Of course, resolutions are easy to start; the
challenge is sustaining them. One month later, have you held true to your good
Some pundits would have you believe that New Year's resolutions are a waste
of time. But in fact, experts say, the very act of making resolutions improves
your odds of success.
"Studies show that people who resolve to change behaviors do much better
than non-resolvers who have the same habits that need to be changed," says
University of Scranton psychologist John Norcross.
Statistics show that, at the end of January, some 64% of resolvers are still
hanging in there; six months later, that number drops to 44%, according to
Norcross, author of Changing for Good.
It's All in the Planning
Making resolutions is the first step, but, experts say, you need a plan and
a healthy dose of perseverance if you want to succeed.
Americans most often resolve to lose weight; quit smoking; get more
exercise; and reduce their alcohol consumption, in that order, Norcross
"These habits and behaviors are very difficult to change, and when you
don't have a well-thought-out plan on how you are going to make sustainable
changes that fit into your lifestyle, it leads to failure," he says.
In other words, it's not enough to simply say, "I want to lose weight
and exercise more." You need a detailed blueprint that addresses how you'll
reach these goals.
"Everyone has strengths and weaknesses," says Katherine Tallmadge,
MA, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "If you want
to succeed, you need to have a concrete plan that plays into your strengths and
avoids distractions [from] your goals by your weaknesses."
Part of that planning is anticipating situations in which you're likely to
slip up -- such as when you're stressed out, eating at a restaurant, or
For example, "if you plan ahead and pack a meal for the plane or carry
some nuts, you won't just grab anything because you are famished, and are more
likely to minimize the slipups and stick with your resolution for healthier
eating," says Arthur Agatston, MD, author of the best-selling The South
Experts say it's also important to remember that this is a marathon, not a
sprint. A realistic resolution is one you can sustain for at least a year --
not just for a few weeks.
Of course you'd like to see those extra pounds gone in a hurry, but quick
weight loss is usually not permanent weight loss, experts say. Diets that have
strict rules, eliminate or severely restrict certain foods, or otherwise take a
lot of effort are usually only successful in the short term. After all, anyone
can lose weight eating mostly cabbage soup -- but how long could you keep that
"Very low-calorie diets lead to quick weight loss of not only fat but
muscle and bone, too," says Agatson. "These diets also lower metabolism
and when an individual goes back to eating the way they used to (because no one
can live on cabbage soup), their slower metabolism will require fewer calories
and, ultimately, they gain all the weight back and then some."