Why is it that so many of us give up on our New Year’s resolutions? By the end of January, 36% will have called it quits and 56% will be throwing in the towel by mid-year, according to researchers at the University of Scranton.
Attempting to take on too much at once is a common mistake we make when tackling a resolution (or two or three). The great Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” This powerful statement holds true to New Year’s resolutions, especially ones pertaining to health and wellness.
When adopting a new exercise routine and/or diet, it is important to approach the goal by building consistent momentum throughout the entire year. When you are picturing the new and improved version of yourself, understand that this version will take time to culminate. Take time to plan progressive and realistic goals for each month. For example, if your goal is to lose a certain amount of weight through dieting and exercising, prepare to do so in a slow, steady, healthy manner. So what exactly does this mean, and how is this done correctly?
Here are some suggestions: Take one percent of your current body weight, and that is the maximum number of pounds you should be losing each week without putting too much strain on your body. If you are new to exercise or exercise minimally, start with a goal of three, 30-minute sessions per week. After a month, once your body adapts to exercising regularly, increase the sessions to 40-45 minutes. After another two months, add one additional 40-45 minute workout to your routine. When two more months have passed, and the momentum is truly building, increase your workout sessions to a full hour in duration. Two months later, add one more, full hour session to your workout schedule and look at you! You are exercising five days per week, you have lost weight and you are looking and feeling accomplished.
Now how about that diet? Start slowly and realistically by committing to five small meals per day. Stick to approximately 400-500 calories per meal. Try to resist non-healthy foods but don’t worry much about the food choices yet. By eating smaller meals in general, your stomach adjusts accordingly by becoming smaller and will actually resist too much food being consumed at once. Not only does the size of your stomach decrease but by eating smaller meals your Ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels are altered. This is the key to eating control as these hormone alterations allow us to feel full before we eat too much. After the first two months, commit to one “healthy meal” per day such as a salad with grilled chicken and nuts. After another two months, do two healthy meals per day. Another few months pass and your dieting momentum is spiraling upward; your self-esteem is growing; and you are ready for three healthy meals per day. As a general rule of thumb, strive for your diet to consist of 45-55% carbohydrates, 20-30% fat, and 15-35% protein.
In combination with the exercise routine established, you can see the physical and mental transformation. You are now more likely to continue this type of healthy behavior throughout the rest of the year and adopt it as a lifestyle. Be patient, be persistent, and don’t give up!