Four thousand years ago, in what is now present-day Iraq, it is said that the Ancient Babylonians gathered together to create the first New Year’s resolutions. They were also the first culture known to have held celebrations to honor the new year which, for them, began in mid-March, just after planting their crops. It appears then that the custom of New Year’s resolutions had practical beginnings (as well as some staying power.) These days, many think of New Year’s resolutions as the year’s first stab at goal setting, with health-related resolutions being the most popular. Others say that New Year’s resolutions are usually unrealistic and set one up to fail.
Are your health-related New Year’s resolutions, realistic?
In 2019, a survey was conducted by NPR and The Marist Poll in November and December of that year. The results? Forty-four percent of 1,075 Americans polled said they were likely to make a New Year’s resolution. Thirteen percent resolved to exercise more, making it the most common resolution. But by mid-January, the majority of those exercisers had given up on their goal to get in shape. The reason most will fall short of their goal so soon? A failure to set specific, realistic, progressive, goals at the onset.
There are ways to turn those New Year’s resolutions into long-term healthy habits, without having to rely on sheer willpower and militant discipline. Here’s how you do it:
Start with a specific goal in mind.
“Getting in shape” is a worthy goal but what does that look like? Will you be hitting the gym after work every evening or, will you exercise only on the weekends? Maybe you’re not a gym girl/guy and are interested in beginning a yoga practice or joining a cycling group. Whatever form of exercise appeals to you, set specific goals that you can chunk down into monthly, weekly, or even individual workout targets.
Expecting to look like a fitness model in three months is not a realistic goal. Expecting to make strength gains of ten percent per month, is much more realistic and reinforces confidence, which is very motivating. Many people these days get their fitness advice from an app or an online trainer using pre-recorded workouts. Consider individual coaching with a live, fitness professional or sports medicine specialist such as a MaxLiving Chiropractor, who can guide you with specific, short-term mini-goals on the way to your primary goal.
Commit to something you know you can handle.
“Take better care of my health,” another common resolution, sounds vague. While “self-care,” has been a positive trend in recent years, getting in shape, taking on a meditation practice, getting to your Chiropractor more often, and other worthy goals may be too much to take on all at once. See your MaxLiving Chiropractor for a regular adjustment and then tackle other healthy habits, one at a time.
Sometimes the easiest way to establish long-term healthy habits is to…
Overcome unhealthy habits
Overcoming unhealthy habits is sometimes easier said than done. Are you someone who finds it difficult to unwind without a glass of wine every night? Do you use candy and sweets to numb emotional stress throughout the day? There is a method to breaking bad habits that can help even the most challenged goal-setter be successful.:
- Avoid temptation -having junk food around the house “for the kids” is not only tempting for you but also introduces kids to unhealthy habits. Avoid inviting “the enemy” into your home.
- Mindset -get motivated for the goal you’re about to achieve. Visualize yourself looking and feeling the way you desire and don’t let go of that image.
- Plan ahead –Feeling the urge to sabotage your efforts? Have a planned alternative in mind. If you have a tough day coming up, select a favorite tea to sip on in the evening in place of that red wine.
- Ask for help -make family and friends aware of your goal and ask them to support you, not ridicule or sabotage your decisions.
- Take pride in your baby steps -Made it through the week (or month) without your favorite cheesecake? Reward yourself with a spa day, massage, or new gym clothes.
When beginning your optimal health journey…
Introduce simple habits first.
Establish a good foundation by starting with small goals that will make you feel successful like staying hydrated by drinking more filtered water every day. Or, start taking a comprehensive, well-formulated multivitamin. A clean diet is vital for good health. But even the healthiest diet may not provide all the nutrients you need. Poor soil conditions, pollution, and individual nutrient imbalances can make getting the essential nutrients you need to support your goals, more difficult than you realize.
MaxLiving offers a collection of multivitamins with a formula designed to support men’s health and women’s health; there’s even a kid’s multi. Multi-vitamins act as an insurance policy, providing essential nutrients that may be missing from the diet. Taking a multivitamin is an easy habit to introduce. Giving the body what it needs to thrive with a well-balanced diet and proper nutritional support, helps create the energy needed for both physical exercise and mental tasks that require lots of concentration, like studying.
How to break a habit in one day.
Is it unrealistic to try and fast-track your health habits? It may depend on the habit. Replacing that weekend bagel habit with a blueberry acai bowl takes little effort. Or, as mentioned above, replace a nightly glass of wine with a satisfying cup of herbal tea.
Do cut back on social media. Science has identified social media as the new “dopamine fix.” Dopamine, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, has been shown to increase when posts are “liked” or “shared,” creating an addiction that is proving to be detrimental to society, especially for young people. Spend more time enriching human connections with family, friends, and even pets, and forego social media as much as possible.
It may seem simple but, quitting smoking cold turkey may be the best example of effectively breaking a terrible habit in one day.
Ever hear the phrase, “If you’re bored, you’re boring?” And worse, boredom, along with stress, are the leading causes of bad habits. If you find you have too much time on your hands, find a hobby (or two) you enjoy. Creative expression is part of the human experience. A new hobby can become a passion and contributes to a fulfilling life. It takes some planning and diligence but if you set specific goals, commit to them, and enjoy the process, you’ll be successful with your resolutions. You got this.
About the Author
Zach Zovath graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Exceptional Education from the University of Central Florida. He continued on to receive his Master’s degree from the College of Education and Human Performance at the University of Central Florida. He is a master-level personal trainer, coach, and health consultant. In addition, his specializations include corrective exercise, performance enhancement, prenatal/postpartum core stability, and exercise therapy. As a result of his education and experience in the health and fitness industry, he has developed fast and effective exercise programs for healthcare facilities.