It's a New Year/New Decade....TIME FOR CHANGE!

It's a NEW YEAR! ANNND a New Decade!! That means it’s “resolution” time once again! Turn on your television or listen to the radio and I guarantee you will hear someone talking about New Year’s Resolutions. Some people love to make resolutions, some people steer away from them…regardless, a resolution is really just goal-setting wrapped up in a fancy package for a holiday, and in order to successfully attain any goal, you need to have a plan and take steps to set yourself up for success!

Personally I think we should be making resolutions all year long to create the kind of life we want.Why do we have to wait until January 1...EVERY SINGLE YEAR... to fail only in a few months?! I advocate framing your goals in a positive way to keep your attitude good and your motivation high. For example, instead of stating on New Year’s Day that you will not eat any baked goods this year (negative and setting yourself up to fail), why not resolve to try eat 5 fruits and veggies a day and allow a baked good once a week (positive and something to look forward to). Get the idea?

Here are some of the tips to achieving your personal goals that I have found to be crucial to success that I hope will help you as you start another year of good health!

Make your goals measurable. A vague goal such as “I want to get into shape this year” gives you nothing to shoot for. “I want to lose 2 inches off my waist by March 1st,” on the other hand, is a meaningful, measurable goal. Concrete goals give you something to work towards with purpose. “I want to be able to walk around the entire neighborhood without stopping in one month” Or “I want to wear my favorite jeans by Spring Break” are great examples of measurable goals.

Set “stepping stone” goals. If your goal is a biggie—say more than a 25-pound weight loss—set short-term weekly or monthly goals to keep you moving in the right direction without getting discouraged. Aiming for 1 to 2 pounds a week is a healthy, reasonable, and more important, sustainable goal. Weekly goals will also help you adjust your plan if you’re not seeing progress.

Create a plan. A plan is imperative for making your goals a reality. I like to start by writing reasonable, achievable “I will” statements. For example: “I will set my alarm 10 minutes earlier than usual 4 days this week to ensure I fit in my morning exercise” or “I will add two fruits to my diet every day” are parts of a concrete action plan. Setting simple, reasonable goals will help you stay upbeat and on track. Putting it down in writing (on paper or on your computer) helps you to be more objective and concrete about your goals. It also helps you to better analyze your progress as you move forward.

Reward your successes. I’m a big believer in self-nurturing, and there’s no better time to nurture yourself than when you’re shedding some of your old, comfortable lifestyle habits to make room for a new healthier way of life. Even positive change can be stressful, so be kind to yourself by acknowledging your progress. I generally try to stay away from food rewards. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional bowl of ice cream; what I don’t like is the emphasis it places on satisfaction through food and food alone. Instead, buy yourself a brow wax, some new lip gloss, a cute workout top, or treat yourself to a hot stone massage.

Practice patience…and forgiveness. There will be days when everything goes to the dogs. Days when you have raging PMS, get swamped at work, and eat two slices of cold pizza before you take off your coat and cook dinner. Nobody’s perfect. Even the most dedicated exercisers have setbacks. The difference between those who succeed long term and those who don’t is how they deal with them. If you immediately think, “I’ve blown it; I’m so fat; why bother?” that overwhelming sense of failure will make it harder to get yourself back on track. Successful exercisers shrug off the workout that never was and occasional overeating and go back to making healthy choices right away. Stay positive and keep moving forward. Zig Ziglar said it best, “It’s not what happens to you that determines how far you will go in life, it is how you handle what happens to you.”

Finally, remember that it’s not enough to just set these goals. You need to put them in action! “I’ll do it later” turns into “never.” So as you’re writing your goals, add WHEN you’re going to put them in action. Be Specific. Action is one word that guarantees results.

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