On keeping those pesky New Year’s Resolutions

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So I don’t think I resolved much when New Year 2016 came around, until September and my 40th birthday came around, when I began training to do something I’d never done — run a half marathon scheduled for early November. I did it, and haven’t run much since after a resulting pesky right-knee issue. Mending slowly, I resolved this year to get back to what has been normal for me over the last several years from a workout perspective: a few 3-4-mile runs a week. With the knee, mostly it’s been biking thus far, but this weekend I did get out and run a mile and a half, followed by a little biking.

Truckstop Truck Stop Hours Of Service Evening Parking Hos Fuel Island20160526 0077 2016 05 27 10 18I also, however, resolved to wake up earlier, work on some personal writing projects, daily, in 2017. I did well the first few weeks, but this morning was a different story. I don’t know if it was the darkness, the dismally gray weather when the sun started coming up or just the normal run of things when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions — though I was awake early, I did not fulfill the goal of a 5 a.m. start today.

As notes Jim Sweeney, writing for the RoadPro brands, now is the time most of us give up on whatever it is we started on January 1. Here’s his message on how to combat it (below), and meantime: How’s it going with your own resolution(s) thus far in 2017?

Don’t give up smoking and junk food; don’t exercise more; and don’t quit smoking in 2017 – at least not all at once.

January is the time when we resolve to quit bad habits and adopt good ones; resolutions that often last no longer than February. There’s a reason our good intentions melt away before the snow does; psychologists call it “willpower depletion.”

Most of us have only so much willpower, the theory goes, and it can be drained from overuse. Your willpower can be depleted every time you have to exercise it to avoid temptation, like not smoking a cigarette or ordering a salad instead of a Big Mac. Confront too many of those situations and your willpower is likely to give out, no matter how determined you are.

So does that mean you shouldn’t bother trying to change, that you’re doomed to failure? Not at all. Willpower is an amazingly powerful force; and the more you believe in it and yourself, the more likely you are to succeed at your resolution.

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But there are smart ways to go about it, methods that will make you more likely to succeed. Here are some tips that will help you turn those resolutions into permanent changes:

Do one at a time – Quitting smoking, changing your diet and exercising more are all difficult; trying to do all three at once is nearly impossible because of our limited willpower. So pick one and pursue that. Don’t necessarily choose the one you think will be easiest or most difficult; pick the one where success will benefit you most and make you happiest and most proud. When you succeed at that, you can go after the others, armed with the knowledge that you can change.

Set mini-goals along the way – If your ultimate goal is to lose 50 pounds, don’t make it all or nothing. Start by losing five pounds, then another five, then 10 and so on. Having goals along the way makes it easier and allows you to celebrate those accomplishments. And even if you don’t lose 50 pounds, maybe you’ll lose 35.

Set a realistic timeframe – It’s rare for a smoker to quit cold turkey or for someone to start jogging 40 miles a week. Serious lifestyle changes take time, and a too-short deadline doesn’t allow for that or for the occasional backsliding.

Get help – There is a lot of free, helpful information out there to help you along the way. Find out what’s been proven the best ways to quit smoking or lose weight. See what’s worked for other people. There’s no need to go it alone.

Make notes – It’s been proven that charting your progress will help keep you on track. Count calories or the number of cigarettes you’ve smoked. Technology, such as apps and fitness bands, makes it easier than ever to monitor your progress.

Don’t go it alone – Share your goals with others and look for a partner(s) who’s trying to accomplish the same thing. Discussing your resolution with someone – and maybe even competing with them – will keep you strong. Family and friends also can provide support.

Forgive yourself – You’re going to slip up, skip a workout or have another smoke. That doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it just proves you’re human. Acknowledge the mistake and get back with the system. In fact, studies have shown that scheduling cheat days or small “rewards” will help keep you moving toward your goal.

So, go ahead and resolve to get healthy this year, but go about it the smart way and you’re more likely to reach your goal. Good luck! 


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