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Making Health Resolutions That Stick

It wouldn't be a new year without the never-ending promises of changing our lives for the better. Whether it's quitting smoking, losing pounds or getting strong, all of us will have some sort of health goal for the year ahead.

The real challenge lies in finding resolutions that aren't dumped before February comes around. There's a few things to keep in mind when it comes to making resolutions that stick.


Why Do We Make Resolutions?

The first step is understanding why we actually make resolutions in the first place. What is it about a new year that makes us so determined to change?

The old year transitioning into the new is a time of reflection for most people. We think about the things we've done, and what we haven't done. Often, remembering last year's resolutions will come up, leading to guilt.

New Year’s resolutions are also commonly utilized and pushed by companies, particularly in the health food and diet industries. No doubt, your newsfeed is full of ads for detoxes, cleanses and weight-loss regimes already. This feeds into your subconscious thoughts, leaving you wondering if this year really is your year to get fit.

Overall, resolutions are not a bad thing! The real problem lies in the fact that most people make them and break them in a very short period of time. They avoid thinking about them, push them aside, and then when it comes up in the next new year, it causes guilt and shame. This causes a vicious cycle of making big promises and never making real, sustainable change.


Why Do Resolutions Usually Fail?

The majority of resolutions that we make are essentially setting us up to fail. There's a number of reasons why this might be.

You might be making a resolution that's too general, such as 'I want to lose weight and get fit'. What does that even mean? You probably don't mean losing one pound and gaining an ounce of muscle, but technically, that is fulfilling your resolution.

You might be making unreasonable resolutions. Some people go in and expect themselves to lose fifty pounds, get a promotion, earn an extra $20,000 per year, go to seven exercise classes per week, run ten miles and meet the love of their life. This is simply not reasonable. In fact, it's setting up for failure and guilt.

You might also make your resolutions based on external factors that change too easily. Some might resolve to lose twenty pounds so they can meet someone, but then go and meet someone after losing two pounds and give up. Others might make them based on something their friend, mother or partner want from them, but they have no motivation other than this expectation from a loved one.


How We Can Make Them Easier to Fulfill?

Your resolutions don't have to be doomed. You just need to know how to make them easier and more likely to be successful. There's a few key points to cover when creating your resolution, so grab a notebook and pen and make sure it covers these points:

Is it specific?

It is essential that you make your goal specific, otherwise you'll never know whether you've really achieved it or not!

If weight loss is your focus, choose a number to aim for, and when you want to reach it by. If it's muscle you're after, consider whether you can get your body fat and muscle levels tested, or if you want to track your size by tape measurements.

Is it realistic?

The one thing that most people forget is to make sure that their goals are realistic. So often, we're so hyped up by the energy of the new year that we forget that we're not actually superheroes!

A resolution isn't meant to be a blur of half-hearted wishes tumbled together in a long sentence. No one can achieve a hundred resolutions in a year!

Instead, try to stick to only one to three resolutions in total. A good way to approach it is to have one for your body, one for your mind and one for your soul.

Then, make sure each resolution you choose is realistic within itself. Losing twenty pounds in a year is much more realistic than twenty pounds by the end of January. Meditating three times per week is more likely to happen than three meditations every day. Set yourself up to succeed, not fail.

Is it sustainable?

It might be realistic, but some resolutions aren't necessarily sustainable over a long period of time. This might be due to the energy required, or the variation of the seasons, or a whole host of other external factors. That's why you might want to put in some thought of how to make it sustainable.

If exercise is your goal, think about whether running two miles a day is possible in extremely hot or cold conditions. If weight loss is your focus, remember that there are fluctuations during seasons, and that you might need to aim for an average weight loss per month over a period of time instead of a strict per-week loss.

What is your core motivational feeling?

When the going gets tough, you need to have something to draw on to keep you going and motivated to keep working on your well-being. That's where exploring your core feeling for your resolution is key.

Say you want to lose some weight. What feeling are you trying to achieve with that goal? It might be confidence, security or pride. Maybe meditation is your goal. Are you trying to feel calmness, being centered or grounded?

You can take this a step further and create a visualization of what it will feel like when you reach this feeling. Maybe it's at the beach, feeling confident to step out without fear of judgment, or maybe it's feeling calm at the end of each work day.

Once you know how you want to feel, and can reach for that goal, it becomes much easier to stay motivated.


A Good Resolution Example

So, how might this process work for a health resolution? Let's have a look at an example.

Say you want to lose some weight, start practicing meditation and re-establish your journal habit. Those are pretty general, so you need to make them specific, realistic, sustainable, and explore your emotional aim. So now, they become:

I want to lose an average of two pounds per month, so that I can feel confident when I go out with my friends.

I want to practice meditation using an app twice a week, and build up as I become more at ease with meditation. I want to feel calm and less scattered after work.

I want to write in my journal at the end of every week, exploring the ups and downs of the week and how I felt. This will help me to feel less overwhelmed and anxious, and more prepared to face a new week.

As you can see, each goal is not expecting too much, and has wiggle room for external factors. However, they are also able to be measured, so you know if you're meeting them or not.


You now have everything you need to go out there and make a resolution that is easier to stick to.

The team at Be Herbal would like to wish you a safe and happy New Year, and a healthy year ahead!