I’ve spent the last two decades making and breaking New Year’s resolutions — everything from losing the last 10 pounds to learning a foreign language to writing more letters. And by the end of every year, I’m back to square one. The excitement is gone. The extra pounds are still there, and the postcards from Hawaii sit gathering dust on my dresser. Miraculously, 2013 is already different — for a few key reasons.
I began in November. Don’t wait until the first of January to start those resolutions. Why? Because truly changing habits isn’t easy. Give yourself time to mess up. Know that you will start, stop and start again. I wanted to commit to moving 30 minutes a day every day of the week. My start was strong, but the kids got sick one week, then there was work and a husband who travels. But even if I couldn’t hit the gym, I could do push-ups and squats at home. I also worked in yoga or even a weighted hula hoop on days when I couldn’t work out. It took me two months to get the formula right.
Break down your goals.
For me, each month represents a healthy step in the right direction. To zap 10 pounds and shrink my midsection, I know I need to exercise consistently, cut processed sugars from my diet, eat nutrition-packed complex carbohydrates, sleep more and eat more fruits and veggies. January was my month to tackle exercise and cut out sugar. In February I gave up simple carbs like white flour, rice and alcohol. And, in March, I’ll be in bed by 9:30 p.m. and drink a green juice smoothie daily. Whatever your goals, break them down so they’re doable and manageable.
Broadcast your goals.
Go public. I wanted acquaintances (not friends who often skipped workouts for coffee) to motivate me. I started a private Facebook page that has grown to 80 people. We post what we’re doing, cheer each other on and share what’s holding us back. I recently posted that despite my amazing workout day, I stayed up late to work and ended up eating everything but the kitchen. Great ideas — like working upstairs instead of in the kitchen, eating more protein to stay full and getting to bed earlier — came my way. Most importantly, it helped to hear from others who also go through the same struggle.
Put a friendly wager on it.
I love competition! All my Facebook friends who were doing my exercise challenge put $25 into a pot, and whoever is left standing on the workout island will split that pot of gold. My friend who gave up sugar with me had us both put up $100. Whoever gave in would also give up the cash. Now, no cookie could ever look that good! Keep up the good work to get healthy and stay that way. I’ll be rooting for you!