Setting a New Year’s resolution is the easy part – it’s sticking to one that is hard.
Experts agree that people make resolutions with the best of intentions, but often inadvertently set themselves up for failure. “Change is hard. We are creatures of habit,” says June Kloubec, Ph.D., a professor of the department of nutrition and exercise science at Bastyr University.
To set yourself up for success: Write down your goals, share them with someone to help keep yourself accountable, and make sure they are as specific and achievable as possible. The most important thing: making sure your goals are reasonable.
Here are five small but meaningful changes you could think about making.
The idea behind mindful eating is pretty basic: If you take the time to truly savor what you are eating, without distractions, then your body will tell you when you’re full and what it’s craving. The hope is that mindful eating can lead you to a balanced, healthy diet that also includes your favorite treats.
“If you pay attention to your food, you are psychologically more satisfied by it,” according to Dr. David Cox, chief medical officer at mindful meditation app Headspace.
Go to sleep – and wake up – at the same time.
“People focus on getting enough sleep and that’s important, but a lot of people don’t emphasize the importance of a consistent sleep/wake schedule,” states Rachel Salas, M.D., an associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins Medicine specializing in sleep medicine. Try putting yourself on a regular sleep schedule, and see how it makes you feel.
Find workouts that will help you achieve your goals.
First, narrow down what it is you want to achieve at the gym, whether that’s building muscle, increasing flexibility, or burning fat. Then try workouts that are aligned with your goals – and that you enjoy, so you’re more likely to make a habit of going to the gym.
Cut down on sugar.
It turns out that the average American consumes over 77 pounds of sugar or sweetener each year, even though eating too much of it increases your risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Think about evaluating how much sugar you consume, and if it’s a lot, take steps to cut back a bit.
“Cutting back on sugar is a gradual process and doesn’t happen overnight, but once you start to cut back on it, you’ll realize you don’t need as much of it as you once thought,” says Chelsea Elkin, M.S., R.D., C.D.N. “And it doesn’t have to be complicated.”
Drink a bit more water.
If you want to up your water intake, try keeping a water bottle at your desk, drinking a glass before starting each meal, or sipping some H20 when you’re feeling hungry (experts say that we often confuse hunger and thirst).