It may seem like New Year's Day was a long time ago. So long, in fact, that you may have forgotten your New Year's resolutions. Back on January 1, you may have made some promises to yourself. Maybe you promised to exercise more. Or eat healthier. You felt confident back then. But as time went on, you started telling yourself, "Maybe next year."
Don't get down on yourself. You can still achieve your resolutions.
WebMD.com suggests you try this trick – cut back on your expectations. That's right. Go for less and get more. You cannot change the way you eat with one meal. You cannot reshape your body with a single step. You have to start with baby steps. Then, you can make big strides toward a healthier, happier new you.
Setting a goal is the first step in reaching something you want. But according to LiveStrong.com, some goals can never be reached. That's because they are not S.M.A.R.T. S.M.A.R.T. stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Use these words to decide if your goals are reachable.
LiveStrong.com lists the following steps to reach your goals:
Choose the one goal you want to achieve most. It could be related to health and weight loss or a work or school project. Write your goal down on paper.
Make your goal specific. Decide how you will reach this goal and when you plan to reach it. For example, "Lose weight" is a general goal. But "Lose 10 pounds by December 1" is a specific goal.
Make sure you can measure your goal. For example, it is hard to measure getting in shape. But weight loss, lower blood pressure, and working out every week can all be measured.
Decide if you can truly reach your goal. For example, maybe you cannot afford a gym membership. So, do not make your goal going to the gym every week. Make your goal working out at home instead.
Make your goal realistic. You must be both willing and able to reach your goal. Losing 100 pounds in a month is not a realistic goal. Losing 100 pounds in a year is.
Choose a good time frame for your goal. If you have a large amount of weight to lose, you should set short-term goals. That way, you can achieve and measure each month, such as eight pounds. If your goal is to exercise more often, set a time frame. For example, one hour a day or from 5 to 6 p.m. each night.
Keep your goal close to you. Then, you can read it and remember what you are working towards.
Tips and warnings
Break your goals up to make them easier to reach. Do not lump them all together. Choose a health-related goal, a work-related goal, or a family-related goal. Once you achieve each goal, move on to a new goal. Or you can set a new area of your life to improve.
Do not get discouraged if you fail to meet your goal during a specific time frame. This can mean one of two things. You either need to focus and work harder. Or your goal is not realistic. In either case, you should change your goals for the next month.
Some resolution ideas
Do you need some help coming up with resolutions? WebMD.com offers these ideas. And all are reachable goals you can feel good about. There are five tips each for your body and overall health.
Step on it.
Health experts say taking 10,000 steps a day is the perfect number for staying healthy. That's about five miles each day, and it trims fat and prevents type 2 diabetes. Don't have time to walk that far? Adding just 2,000 steps a day can make a big difference. That fact comes from Dr. Marie Savard, a women's health expert and author. She wrote the book "Ask Dr. Marie: Straight Talk and Reassuring Answers to Your Most Private Questions."
Wear a pedometer while you take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a block or two farther from work. Do a few laps of fast walking around the mall. Once you have hit 2,000 steps, add another 2,000 – and keep on walking.
Learn a balancing act.
While you brush your teeth, lift one leg. Count to 60. Repeat with the other leg. This little exercise improves your balance. Good balance is important for preventing falls as you age. This exercise also makes sure you brush for the two minutes your dentist suggests.
Lose the chips.
Every week, throw out one processed food. Processed foods are pre-made items like cookies, crackers, or potato chips. Replace those foods with apples, red peppers, or other fruits or vegetables.
Dr. Holly S. Andersen is a cardiologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She says eating a colorful array of fruits and vegetables will lower your blood pressure and help you lose weight. These foods will also help your body battle disease.
Drop an inch.
We are all worried about our weight. But good health is less about what you weigh. It is about how many inches you can tighten your belt. The fat that sits around your middle is the most dangerous kind.
Experts say a waist size of 34.5 inches or less is the target for women. But taking off just an inch or two has great health benefits. It can reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems. To trim your waistline, eat less sugar and increase your physical activity, Andersen added.
Put fish on your menu at least twice a week. "We know that people who eat several servings of fish each week live longer. And have less heart disease than people who don't," said Andersen. Salmon, lake trout, tuna, and flounder are good choices. Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, which contain high levels of mercury. However, if you're pregnant, limit fish and shellfish to 12 ounces total a week.
Find a friend.
It is harder to quit your diet and exercise plan when you have a friend. This is especially true if your friend offers support to help you reach your goals.
Take a nap.
Sometimes, you cannot get your full seven to nine hours of sleep at night. So recharge with a nap. Set your alarm for 20 to 30 minutes and enjoy a midday nap. Do not hit the snooze button, though. Napping too long in the daytime can interrupt your nighttime sleep.
See your doctor.
If you have not seen your primary care doctor in a while, make an appointment. Discuss your weight, diet, and any problems you're having. Ask what screenings you need. These can include blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. Also ask your doctor about vaccines you will need in the coming year.
Staying hydrated is important for your skin as well as for your overall health. Being hydrated means that your body has the water it needs to work properly. Every morning, fill a large bottle with 2.2 liters of water. This is about nine cups. By the end of the day, you should be seeing the bottom.
A 30-minute workout each day will keep your body looking and feeling its best. And getting that exercise early in the day will help you sleep better at night.
It's all in your mind.
Dr. Gary McClain published an article that talks about New Year's resolutions. He wrote that as the year goes on, old behavior patterns start to creep back in. "The problem is that the original New Year's resolutions were too grandiose," he said. "They were more about who you think you should be than who you are."
Dr. McClain offers this advice for setting a direction for the year:
- Let go of the inner voice of self-criticism.
- Don't give in to all-or-nothing thinking that sets you up for failure.
- Stop comparing yourself to other people.
- Remember that your life is about years, not one year. Focus on the big picture.
- Give in to the possibility of change.
- Remember that you are a work in progress.
- Set realistic priorities for the New Year. Begin with "taking better care of myself."
- Celebrate yourself, your successes, your strengths.