February seems to have a bleak realism – the holidays are over, the decorations are put away, winter is still here … and you need to truly address those resolutions you made in the confetti fun of New Year’s Eve.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, weight loss programs often see a spike in new membership in the beginning of the year. One month into the New Year, many realize that they haven’t made progress on their health and fitness resolutions.
How can you take the optimism and sense of empowerment for change you felt in January, and translate it into real mission statements, which can be followed long term?
The challenging part of any goal, whether it’s to start going to the gym or go on a diet, is persistence – the self control and motivation to make the right choice day, after day. Luckily, there has been extensive psychological research on techniques to improve the resolve it takes to find success and reach your goals.
Follow these useful tips to help keep your New Year’s resolutions all the way through the year.
- Realistic Goal Making – goals, by their nature, should be attainable – if they are not, they are only dreams. A New Year’s resolution of winning the lottery, losing excessive amounts of weight, getting multiple promotions at work, etc. are not useful as goals. Don’t set yourself up for failure by making unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. Dreams are great, but ineffective as goals.It is best to be honestly self-reflective about the changes you want to make, create modest, but challenging goals, and work toward those goals throughout the year.
- Create Benchmark Goals/Rewards – One large, year-long goal can feel overwhelming, unreal, or unattainable. Creating benchmark goals and a reward system will help you maintain your motivation throughout the year. Work toward a mini goal, celebrate your successes, and feel empowered to continue on toward your “year-end” goal. Also, the benchmarks serve as an evaluative tool, tracking to see if you are on-course to meet your larger goal.A reward system is important – make the reward something meaningful and worth all your effort. Don’t give in! Don’t give yourself the reward if you don’t meet your goal. Save that iPod, trip to the spa, or new haircut for when you actually meet your goal. Your priceless reward will be a sense of pride and accomplishment.
- Don’t Be Derailed by Mistakes – anyone can make a resolution and many people can stick to it for a little while. The real challenge to meeting your goal will be staying on track for the long term.The major hurdle, which trips up many, is recovering from a setback. You will make a mistake: whether you eat, drink, say or buy something that you promised you wouldn’t. This is part of being human and it is okay! Plan for mistakes, detours and bad days – they will happen. However, they do not have to derail your whole goal and all your progress. Accept and embrace the mistake and jump right back into your routine.Knowing that mistakes will happen will better prepare you for overcoming them. You have only truly lost your goal when you decide to stop trying for it.
- Create a Support System – the best way to increase your odds of success is to have a support system – people who know your resolutions, support your decisions and do everything they can to help you achieve your goals.Find a friend, spouse, sibling, or co-worker who shares your goal and encourage and support each other throughout the year. If you’re a Medifast Center client, your Medifast Counselor can also provide support and accountability to help you stay on track. This sense of comradeship and accountability will help keep you strong through the hard times – as well as giving you someone with whom you can celebrate your victories.
February is a great month to revisit your New Year’s Resolutions, build a serious strategy, and approach the year with confidence, excitement and an iron resolve.