Just about everyone wants to be healthier, and the start of the new year is a time people often make a fresh commitment to better fitness. It can be about losing weight, gaining strength and endurance, or quitting an unhealthy habit. Gym memberships soar. Home health equipment flies off the shelves. Behavior modification programs have to turn away clients.
Keeping these resolutions, of course, is another matter. Gyms make a lot of money from people whose only participation is paying the bill every month. Don’t let that happen to you. Here are some tried and true ways to make good on your commitment to a healthier you.
- Use the BFF system. Teaming up with a Best Friend Forever can be a great way of not only keeping your healthy resolution, but making it fun too. Working out together, or agreeing to stop or cut back on alcohol, sugar, or carbs increase accountability and create more happiness in your life. Some people like to raise the ante by putting money behind a resolution–as in the first one to break the vow pays the others. Friendship, competition, cash–use whatever it takes to stay on track!
- Keep a journal. Writing something down keeps it on our minds. According to Psych Central, “writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you.” Journaling about a health goal–noting progress and setbacks–helps you stay focused. Also, because we are often very busy we forget about unhealthy habits (that’s how they became habits in the first place) and just reflexively do what we’ve done in the past. Journaling reminds you to be more conscious about what you are trying to change.
- Mediate. Like journaling, meditating forces us to take time out from our normal stress and anxiety about the future and the past, and to focus on the here and now. WebMD tells us that “meditation not only lowers blood pressure but also can amp up your immune system.” Meditation also improves your ability to concentrate and focus on a goal like getting healthier. That’s a double bonus–you get healthier just by meditating, and meditating helps you to stay focused on your healthcare resolution.
- Use reminders. Schedule reminders on your phone or computer to help you to consistently make the choices you want to make. You can also use a human reminder. Executive coach Marshall Goldsmith “pays someone to call him every morning and ask him 32 questions that help him to be accountable to be the person he wants to be.” Asking yourself the same questions about whether you are living up to your own expectations can help keep you on track.
- Focus on the positive. One reason resolutions fade is because we tend to view them as punishment or sacrifice. No more chocolate! Poor me! Now you just want chocolate because you’re not supposed to have it. Hilda Carroll in the mindfulness website Elephant Journal says, “There is a difference between self-care and self-improvement. One involves taking good care of who we are now and, in doing so, supporting ourselves to grow into even better versions of ourselves.” You’re not sacrificing, you’re taking care of yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over every setback. Reward yourself with a massage every time you reach a new milestone. Remember, you’re doing this for you, not for some external appreciation or validation.
Here’s to a happy and healthy new year!