Despite the annual chatter about healthy New Year’s resolutions, many of us give up by February and only a few stay the course for a whole year. Why is that? Sometimes it’s because we’re not really committed to the goal. Other times, the resolution itself is the issue. It may be too broad or unrealistic, or there might not be a solid plan for achieving it.
Here are some goal-setting ideas from the coaches at Real Appeal, an online weight-loss program available at no additional cost to eligible UnitedHealthcare members and dependents.
They recommend you start by asking yourself:
● What healthy change do I want to focus on most?
● What do I feel confident about achieving?
● What am I ready to start working on now?
● What is most important to me?
Next, think about these five tips:
1. Focus on one goal at a time. Tackling too much at once may lead to inconsistency. Try sticking to one priority until you feel confident adding another. If you’ve decided to record the food you eat and start a daily exercise routine, consider focusing on your food journal first. After you’ve developed a reliable system for tracking meals, begin upping your exercise game.
2. Set realistic and measurable resolutions. Make sure each resolution is attainable and decide exactly how you’ll measure its success. Use specific times and numbers to avoid vagueness. Instead of a resolution to “have a less stressful morning routine,” make it your goal to get out of bed by 6:45 a.m. each day. Instead of pledging to “move more,” resolve to add a brisk, 30-minute walk to your daily routine. Start small, knowing you can always increase your measurable goals.
3. Make your goals enjoyable. Set resolutions you want to accomplish, not ones you think you should reach, and come up with ways to enjoy the time you’ve committed to them. For example, if your measurable goal is to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, consider enrolling in a virtual cooking class that features interesting ways to add produce to dishes.
4. Plan for challenges and how you’ll overcome them. Brainstorm a list of things that could get in the way of accomplishing your goals and come up with solutions ahead of time. Be honest about roadblocks and get creative with solutions. For instance, what will you do if the weather is bad? How can you add purposeful movement around your home or apartment?
5. Stay accountable and get support from people around you. Strong social support may improve your motivation, mental health and behavior. Surround yourself with positive people and advocate for what you need to reach your goal. Consider asking a family member or friend to work with you on a common goal or join a group that will help you stay accountable.
Go deeper: If you decide your resolution will be to lose weight, the Real Appeal coaches suggest these areas of focus:
1. Track your food and drinks. Research has shown people who track their food lose more weight. A food diary may help keep you accountable and reveal things you might not even notice about your eating and drinking habits.
2. Eat quality food. Fill your plates with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, such as turkey and fish. If that will mean big changes to how you currently eat, consider making a series of healthier food and drink swaps over time.
3. Get moving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who lose weight and keep it off routinely do moderately intense physical activity. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderately intense activity to maintain weight loss.
For support, consider checking if you’re among the millions of UnitedHealthcare members whose health benefits include year-long access to a Peloton App Membership or a three-month waiver on an All Access Membership at no additional cost, and preferred pricing on equipment.
One last thing: Don’t limit yourself to setting resolutions once a year. Revisit your goals all year to help stay on track and refocus your efforts. Use these tips to set yourself up for success, no matter when you’re looking for ways to live healthier.