Health Advice



Mayo Clinic Q and A: Making New Year's resolutions that stick

Cynthia Weiss, Mayo Clinic News Network on

Published in Health & Fitness

• Achievable — What steps will I take to make this happen?Set a realistic goal. With the right weight-loss program, 50 pounds may be realistic. Ask the program you're considering what the average weight loss among participants is after one year. Depending on the program and its weight loss approach, you may need to set a smaller, more attainable goal.

• Relevant — Is this important enough to me to want to do it?Think positively. Behavior only changes from the positive. Remember there are programs to help you accomplish your goal.

• Time-framed — When will I do this?Set a specific target date. There is nothing magical about Jan. 1 as a start date. It is better to pick a date when you have a plan in place.

Your SMART goals should consist of long-term and short-term goals. Establish your long-term goal first. An example of a long-term goal is: "I will walk briskly for 30 minutes each day at least five days a week."

However, if you haven't been exercising on a regular basis, there often is a need for intermediary, short-term goals. For example: "I will walk 15 minutes during my lunch hour at least three days each week for the next month." After reaching your short-term goal, extend your efforts gradually, until you ultimately accomplish your long-term goal.

Finally, accept challenges, and don't give up. Nearly everyone will face challenges during their health journey. Perhaps it's a busy family life, work, school, medical issues or peer pressure to continue bad habits. It's important to identify potential challenges and envision strategies to address them as part of an effective health plan.

Here are a few tips for success:

• Confront your temptations.You will need to change your environment to help with your weight goals. Get rid of food that won't help you realize your goal — this should be part of your planning.


• Tell your friends.Changing your habits for good may affect your inner circle of friends. Let them know what you're trying to do and enlist their support in helping you achieve your goal.

• Remember the reward.Make a list of the reasons you want to lose weight. When you lack reasons to change, it is easy to fall back into old habits.

• Be prepared for a setback.Give yourself another chance. Most people slip up at some point. The people who are successful are the ones who get back on track. Look at how many days you still have left in the calendar year and see what you can accomplish before the year is up. Don't give up.

• Commit yourself.You can't take lifestyle changes lightly. Consider keeping a health journal to record your activities and achievements, adding to your motivation and accountability. Make your health a priority.

Embracing a healthy lifestyle is an ongoing, dynamic process. Use the new year as an opportunity to start the journey to living a healthier life.

— Dr. Gabriel Berendes , Family Medicine, Mayo Clinic Health System, La Crosse, Wisconsin

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