Five Ways to Revive Your New Year's Resolution

What to do when that health resolution is failing … in January.

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Confession: I’m not the biggest advocate for New Year’s resolutions. For me, a New Year’s resolution comes with a sense of impending failure. Maybe it’s my history of vowing to make a change that lasts only a couple of weeks before I am left feeling guilty about my failed attempt. Or maybe it’s that, year after year, I’m inundated by weight-loss diet ads, health food crazes, and resolution-focused advice that not only seems unachievable, but also unrealistic.

So far into 2012, it’s the same story. Weight loss ads appear in every commercial break, magazine covers tout celebrity weight loss tricks, and blogs post the best New Year’s resolution advice. But, what about those out there — like me — who are already feeling overwhelmed or discouraged before the resolutions even have a chance to take hold? Follow these simple tricks to help you stick with your New Year’s resolution:

1. Start small. If your goal is to lose weight, focus on a small, healthy amount of weight loss at a time. One or two pounds per week is a good goal and will increase your chances of keeping the weight off. The good news? By breaking it down into small, manageable pieces, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed.

2. Think of a positive goal. I like to start with the positives first. Instead of making it a goal to eliminate a food from your diet like soda or potato chips, try adding a fruit or vegetable serving instead. One rule of thumb is to have a fruit or vegetable (or both!) with everything you eat.

3. Make it social. Find an exercise group or cooking class to do with friends. When you make your goal social, you make it more enjoyable. With friends, exercise and cooking healthful meals turns into having fun — instead of an obligation you set on New Year’s day.

4. Fit exercise into unlikely places. Going to the gym isn’t the only way to get some extra steps in your day. Choosing to walk the dog an extra five minutes, biking to work, or taking a 10-minute walk on your lunch break will make a difference in your overall activity level.

5. Take it one day at a time. Try practicing good nutrition just one day, and use that as a way to pinpoint your challenges. Maybe it’s eating breakfast every morning or drinking more water. Using that one day to help you see the challenges you face will help you start making changes.

Don’t be discouraged this new year by setting unachievable or unrealistic goals. Track your progress, and reward your accomplishments. Remember: the most successful resolutions are the ones that you actually keep.