Five New Year's Resolution Mistakes You Can Still Fix

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In most cases, the resolutions are simply not specific enough, not realistic, and are not measurable, which makes them almost impossible to keep. It's time to reevaluate your resolutions and/or make some resolutions you will actually keep by avoiding these common mistakes. 

1. Eat healthier
While this sounds like a great resolution, similar to 'getting in shape,' the goal is much too ambiguous. What does 'healthier' even mean? Tweak this goal by focusing on specifics that make your diet healthier or make you more fit. Maybe you want to increase the number of vegetables you eat daily, reduce the frequency of eating out, or start taking the stairs at work. It’s much easier to have a specific goal to work on so you can measure it and have a defined goal in your mind to help you visualize what you actually need to be doing. 

2. Lose 60 pounds in the next year
If you're overweight, losing weight is one of the best things you can do for your health. However, there are a couple of problems with setting a goal like this. First, you’re focusing on an outcome instead of a behavior. Weight loss is a symptom of behavior change, so again, focus on behaviors that lead to weight loss like tracking everything you eat and drink or wearing a pedometer to increase the number of steps you take in a given day. Second, this resolution is too long term. Losing 60 pounds may take a year, or longer to lose and you may get discouraged because it's human nature to want things now. Instead, choose a smaller, short-term weight loss goal. I recommend working in increments of 5 pounds and keep in mind that healthy weight loss recommendations are 0.5 pounds to 2 pounds per week. 

3. I'll cut out sugar
Reducing added sugars is wonderful to do, but any time you make an ultimatum, you are setting yourself up for failure. Elimination diets lead to feelings of deprivation and often leads to overeating or bingeing. Instead, identify what high-sugar foods you’re consuming and think of ways you can realistically reduce your intake. Choose to limit regular soda to just a few times per week, or switch to oatmeal with dried fruit in the morning instead of a donut. With additives like sugar and salt, it takes our taste buds a while to acclimate to a reduction, so you'll be more successful if you reduce these in increments instead eliminating cold turkey. 

4. I'm joining the gym
Gym memberships can definitely increase physical activity and offer many conveniences not otherwise available. However, nearly everyone has been in the situation where they joined the gym, went a few times and January, then NEVER went again. When setting fitness resolutions, evaluate your current lifestyle and your motivation. Just signing up doesn't guarantee you'll go, so ask yourself what you will do realistically. For most people, time, is the number one reason cited for not exercising, so focusing on short bursts of physical activity is more important than trying to set up gym glasses or relying on long, continuous activity. Focus on ways to increase your daily physical activity, like walking at least 7,500 steps per day or take three, 10 minute breaks during the day to go walking, run the stairs, do jumping jacks, or jump rope. If the gym is something you really do want to do, get a buddy and set up a schedule. Make yourself accountable for the number of times you'll go the gym per week and stick to it. The most important thing is establishing a pattern, even if you cannot stay as long as you would like, just getting there is more than half the battle. 

5. Forgetting about your resolutions
The absolute worst thing people do with their New Year's resolutions is not following through. Set resolutions that can be built upon and schedule times to check in our how you are doing with your resolution. I recommend evaluating monthly. Many people find it helpful to post resolutions on the refrigerator or mirrors so they’re seen daily, increase your accountability by telling friends and loved ones about your goals and asking for support. Your resolutions should evolve over the year. An example of building on a goal would be: adding in a vegetable with lunch 3 days per week for a month. Check in and bump that goal up to 4 days a week, or every day that week. Keep building every month until you've reached your goal of 3 servings/cups of vegetables per day.