Tips for sticking to your New Year’s resolutions

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By Sarah Henning — Lawrence Journal-World

Just a week into 2011 and if you’re New Year’s resolution is already on shaky ground, you’re not alone.

According to findings published in a 2002 volume of the Journal of Clinical Psychology, making resolutions are useful, but maybe only to less than a quarter of us. Of the 40 to 45 percent of American adults who make resolutions, less than half continue to maintain them after six months.

To help you be one of the successful few, we talked with local experts about the resolutions that seem to come up the most.

Not surprisingly, many of them suggested similar ways of making your resolution happen: Figure out where you stand, create a specific goal and then get there using short- and medium-term goals as stepping stones.

It’s one thing to make your resolution to lose weight and another thing entirely to see it through. Zach Schneider, ACE personal trainer at Fitness Together 1540 D Wakarusa Drive Lawrence, KS 66047 (785) 331-2800, shared his five-point attack plan.

Get fit/lose weight

One of the top resolutions, and hardest to keep, is the resolution to get fit and lose weight. Zach Schneider, a certified ACE personal trainer with Fitness Together, 1540 Wakarusa Drive, says the best way to beat the battle of the bulge is with a plan.

His five-point attack for bettering your body in 2011:

Create a food and activity journal. Schneider’s No. 1 tip. He says you don’t need to write down calorie counts, you just need to get a good handle on what’s going into you body and when as well as what you’re doing each day to burn it off. He says doing this will immediately make you more aware of yourself and your efforts.

Have clearly defined goals. Don’t just say, “I want to lose weight” — put a number on it. Don’t just say you want to “get fit” — turn your goals into specifics, rather than just nebulous ideas.

Set short-term and long-term goals. Schneider says that often the worst opponent in the weight loss game is the sheer magnitude of what lies in front of you. He says if you have 100 pounds to lose, don’t focus on the big number, focus on the first 10 pounds. Precise, small goals make bigger goals attainable.

Be realistic with those goals. There’s no use in setting yourself up for failure. You may want to lose 30 pounds in a month like the contestants on “The Biggest Loser,” but that’s probably not going to happen on your own. Give yourself the time to make it to your goal safely, rather than rush it and end up injured or frustrated when results don’t happen over night.

Find someone to support you. This person could be a trainer or a nutritionist, but if that’s out of the question for you, at least try to get a regular workout partner or someone with whom you can discuss your diet.

Quit smoking/drinking/caffeine

Other than losing weight, one of the most popular things to lose is the grip of an undesirable habit, be it smoking, drinking or caffeine. Cheryl Miller, a Lawrence wellness strategist, life coach and self-proclaimed mayor of cherylmillerville.com, says it’s best to shore up your attack on your bad habit by outlining exactly why it’s bad and then working from there.

She recommends taking a sheet of paper and marking one side with an X and the other with a smiley face. The X is where you are now and the smiley face is where you want to be. Write all the reasons you want to leave the X and all the benefits of the smiley face. Then, in between the two, write your steps to get there.

More tips:

Write down the downsides. Just like in weight loss, it helps to be specific. You can’t just tell yourself “Smoking is bad.” “Drinking is bad.” “Caffeine is bad.” Instead, write down exactly what’s bad about the substance you’re trying to curb. Or what specific benefits might come with quitting.

Make the obstacles weaker. Now that you have the reasons to do it, you need what Miller calls an “action plan” of steps to take to get over the obstacles in your way. Look at every aspect, of your relationship with the substance and figure out a way to defeat it.

Know it might not take. Quitting is something that might not be successful the first time. Miller says the sooner you accept the fact that it might take a couple of hard tries, the better. Don’t consider yourself a failure if it doesn’t work the first time. Remember, it’s a lifestyle change.

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Filed under Diet, Exercise, Weight Gain, Weight Loss

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