New Year’s health resolutions are set by many yet achieved by few. (Even Richard Branson set health resolutions.) It’s a common practice, for some even a ritual, to make New Year’s resolutions. Forty five percent of people surveyed said their New Year’s resolutions were health-related, specifically to lose weight, diet, and exercise. We also know that 80% of new year resolutions fail.
Each time we set a goal and are not successful we teach ourselves that we are not good at that “thing”. In his book, Your Best Year Ever, Michael Hyatt writes that far more people in their twenties achieve their New Year’s resolutions than those over fifty. The Harris Poll found that 70% of adults over sixty-five think New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time. Do millennials achieve more of their goals because they are young and optimistic? Maybe.
When we set goals or attempt something and we don’t succeed over and over again, like we do with New Year’s health resolutions (sometimes the same ones ten years in a row), we teach ourselves that success is not in reach. “Doubt is a goal toxin.” ~Michael Hyatt
So here are nine tips to ensure the success of your new year’s health resolutions!
1. Enlist in a weight loss program (if you need to). According to the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) that tracks habits of people who have successfully lost weight, 45% of people were able to lose weight on their own, while 55% enlisted in a weight loss program. That’s more than half! So if you need professional advice on your health goals, seek help from reputable and reliable programs with doctors and dietitians who oversee your progress instead of just selling you “food products” that mimic food.
2. Make it easy to make healthy swaps. You can’t rely on will power so you have to have foods at the ready that will be easy healthy swaps. If you want to be healthier, making diet changes is an inevitable reality. So make it easy on yourself. If you like crunchy snacks, try sliced carrots, Daikon radish, or jicama instead of potato chips and dried fruit instead of donuts.
3. Create healthy habits (in other parts of your life). If you don’t get enough sleep, you will crave sugar to keep your energy up. Most times these are empty calories that will keep you from reaching your goal. Eating breakfast and keeping healthy snacks (like nuts – which are eaten daily by centenarians in the Blue Zones) nearby are other good habits.
4. Make it yourself. You can more easily control what goes into your food if you make it yourself. Limit restaurant outings to once or twice a week. This goes especially for sweet treats. Michael Pollan, author of several NYT best selling books including Cooked, says “make it yourself”. It’s too easy to go to the store and buy treats full of fillers and chemicals. You can still have your chocolate chip cookies or apple pie, just make it yourself. Odds are you will not invest the time and energy to do it from scratch as often as you could pick it up at the store.
5. Pass on the processed. Foods should be recognizable as close to their original form in nature. Processed food products are not health foods, they are devoid of all nutrients, and should be avoided or consumed in small quantities.
6. Get physical. NWCR reported that 94% of people increased their physical activity to lose weight. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 30-60 minutes of physical activity per day. NWCR participants report up to 90 minutes of exercise per day. Activity should vary in intensity, with moderate intensity being most prevalent. This could include yoga, walking, running, biking, and swimming. The key is to do something you enjoy and will stick with.
7. Be mindful. Do not multitask. If you are eating and doing anything else you are not paying attention to how you feel when you are eating and when you are full. This could lead to overeating, a risk factor for weight gain and chronic disease.
8. Be a good host (to your microbiome). The bacteria that make up your microbiome are responsible for your cravings. Eating more fruits and vegetables cultivates more of the good bacteria that you want. Prebiotics are becoming more of a trend in 2020. These are the foods that nourish and promote good bacteria to grow. Prebiotic foods include wheat (if you can handle gluten), onion, garlic, leek, asparagus, chicory root, burdock root, and Jerusalem artichoke.
9. Be compassionate. Know that your health issues didn’t occur overnight and that it may take more than 4-8 weeks to start seeing results. Now that your health is a priority, results will follow if you keep giving your goal the attention it needs.
I want to add one more here to give you just one more way to ensure a big success – WRITE IT DOWN! Write is a lot – in a notebook, on sticky notes and post them all over, on your notes page in your phone. Wherever, so that you see it all the time. If you say you’re going to walk or go to the gym three days a week for 30-60 minutes each time, the more you see it, the more likely you are to do it.
Use these nine tips to ensure the success of your new year’s health resolutions and keep this one quote in mind…
“Eat (real) food, mostly plants, not too much.” ~ Michael Pollan