Most of us, at some point or another, have made New Year's resolutions that pertain to our physical well-being. But then, at some point or another, we decide we've already blown it and eat an entire box of cookies anyway—resolutions be damned!
As a result, I stopped making these kinds of resoultions years ago. Instead, I've tried to think about the coming year as an opportunity to continue to strive for a healthful and balanced life, regardless of what the date on the calendar reads.
If, however, you feel bereft without your list of New Year's resolutions, especially ones around health and fitness, I have some ideas to help you create ones that work. By following these suggestions, you are more likely to follow through on your resolutions and less likely to set yourself up for disappointment.
Think small. Small daily commitments can make a big difference in improving your health and fitness. For example, instead of making a resolution to lose 50 pounds, resolve to park your car farther away and walk the extra steps to the bank or work or the grocery store.
Instead of resolving to cut out sugar from your diet, just swap juice for water or eliminate a particular kind of sugar, such as those from processed sweets.
Think realistic. If you have never brown bagged your lunch in your life, it is not reasonable to expect yourself to start now and do it every day of the week. Instead, commit to making your lunch one day a week, then increase to two days a week once that becomes routine. After a few months, you'll feel comfortable making healthy brown bag lunches on a more regular and consistent basis.
If you have never been a runner, don't resolve to run a 10k next weeked. Just make a commitment to walk three mornings or evenings a week. Eventually, you can increase the frequency or intensity of your walks by adding in some jogging.
Think specific. On the other hand, resolving to run a 5k in a future date, or having another specific goal in mind is a great way to stay motivated to keep up with your workouts. Having a target will keep you focused. Maybe there's a race coming up this summer that you want to participate in or a hike you want to complete with friends. The more specific your goal, the easier it is to know when you've reached it. Then you can set your eyes on a new and more challenging target.
Build on your strengths and already established habits. If you already cook regularly, vow to incorporate one new vegetable into your menu each week. is a great place to explore new foods and get tried and true suggestions on how to prepare them.
If you prefer taking classes to working out on your own in the gym, vow to try out a new class each week for a specified amount of weeks. At the end of say, six weeks, you can evaluate the classes you took and choose which ones you want to continue.
Perhaps you're still a couch potato, but you love to read. Resolve to check out (and read!) one book each month about healthy cooking or exercise from the You might even get inspired to try a workout or a recipe!
Get support. One of the best ways to stick with any resolution is to have some support from someone you trust. This can mean asking a family member to hold you accountable for the healthy commitments you've made to yourself or asking a friend to join you on your fitness quest.
The truth is, it's often much easier to show up for someone else than it's to show up for ourselves. I cannot tell you how many times I would have pressed the snooze button and gone back to bed if I didn't know someone was waiting for me at so we could run together. As hard as it has been at times to get out from under my cozy comforter, I have never regretted showing up.
Forgive yourself and move on. When you overindulge at your cousin's superbowl party or skip your workouts for a week, don't spend a second berating yourself. It's a waste of your energy. Instead, use that energy to do what you can now. Focus on increasing your water and veggie intake in the days following your superbowl binge. Ask a friend to meet you at the gym to help you get back to your workout routine.
Whatever your slip up, remember to be kind to yourself and keep moving forward.
In the spirit of wellness, may 2012 bring you an abundance of health and fitness!