Psychology of a healthy New Year’s resolution
Of all the New Year’s resolutions that people make, nearly 40 percent of them will be to exercise more. The second most common resolution willbe to eat better, with 10 to 15 percent vowing to change their diet.
We want to do better, we really do! We want to eat healthier, be fitter, and feel better about ourselves, but something is lacking in the follow through. It’s estimated that 75 percent of New Year’s resolutions end in failure. So, if you are making a 2013 New Year’s resolution, you might need some tips for ending in the successful 25 percent.
The success of a New Year’s resolution depends on many factors. But perhaps most importantly, is your own belief that you have the power to change your situation.
Researchers have found that those people who believe self-control is unlimited have a far better chance of succeeding at New Year’s resolution endeavors. In other words, if you blame your genes for your obesity, rather than your steady diet of fast food and inactivity, you won’t find much success in a resolution. If, however, you feel in control of your own health and chalk your health shortcomings up to a lack of effort, your potential to succeed is dramatically increased.
How long you’ve been thinking about your New Year’s resolution can also have an impact on its success. If you are sitting around with friends on New Year’s Eve, having a few drinks and lamenting about how tight your party dress is, it’s likely not a good time to cement a resolution. Instead, planning for the change will ensure you are equipped with the information needed to lose weight and an outline to make that happen. Think about your new workout schedule, your new go-to healthy recipes, and other weight loss strategies that you will be employing over the next several months. Get your system in place in advance.
Finally, make New Year’s resolutions that are achievable. While aiming high is admirable, Psychologist Leslie Becker says that too-high expectations could backfire. She suggests asking yourself some questions about your resolution, to ensure you aren’t setting yourself up for failure:
- Is my goal or resolution realistic?
- Am I giving myself enough time to attain my goal?
- Do I have a well thought out plan?
- Am I prepared for the effort I will have to put in?
- Do I have realistic expectations for how my life will change by achieving this goal?
Finally, get some support. As with any major life change, getting healthy takes support. Tell your friends and family about the changes you are making, both so they don’t send you chocolates on your birthday, and so you feel accountable to someone other than yourself.
Life changes take dedication and commitment. Only you have the power to change your health through diet and exercise. Whether you resolve to attain better health on January 1, or any other day in the calendar year, it will take the same level of effort—so prepare and get ready for a healthier you!