Making your New Year's resolution stick

Making a great New Year's resolution and sticking to it can cause significant change in your life.

Unfortunately, many people set themselves up for failure during the process because they do not design a great plan.

1. THINK SMALL

What is the smallest thing you can do? Imagine one behaviour you can create that will fit seamlessly into your day.

Add one serving of vegetables at lunch. Have one piece of fruit as a snack. Take three deep breaths when you feel stressed.

Walk around the block at work every day. Do five squats or five push-ups in the morning.

Drink a glass of water when you wake up. Go to sleep 15 minutes earlier.

We often try to create huge resolutions in the hope that a big goal will force us into changing our ways.

Consider the opposite and experience the thrill when you achieve baby steps.

Add a small habit every month, and see how much change can occur in a year.

2. HAVE FUN

Do something enjoyable.

Resolutions around health and wellness can often feel depriving and boring. Consider a fun way towards better health.

Add a hobby to your life to find exercise in a playful way: a dance class, a new or favourite sport, rock climbing, outdoor adventures, anything that seems fun and interesting. Not only is it a workout, but you can also use your brain in a new way, learn a new skill and have fun while doing it.

Use nutrition in playful ways too.

Start a cooking night with your children, buy a fun cookbook, try a new recipe or take a cooking class.

3. TREAT YOURSELF

Instead of saying no to something, consider adding some luxury to your day. Buy really soft sheets, or a package of exercise classes, or a fitness trainer to jump-start a workout routine.

Try a meal delivery service to sample new dishes, exercise portion control and enjoy someone else cooking for you.

Consider a new piece of kitchen equipment, or a splurge to get you in the mood to enjoy cooking and eating in line with your values.

For example, to promote batch cooking, buy a slow cooker and containers to take on the go.

All these are additions to your life that will promote learning skills to support long-term change.

4. DELAY ACTION

Sometimes we set super specific actions as our goal, but we have not done the work to understand the deeper behaviour.

You cut out alcohol for January, but for the next 11 months you drink as much as you want.

Why can't you drink less throughout the year?

Replace the alcohol in that scenario with sweets, fried food, soft drinks or pizza.

Or replace it with the other scenario in which you have a great workout routine for January, but drop off by February and never consider how to implement a consistent exercise strategy into your life.

Substitute exercise for sleep, meditation, eating vegetables or healthy cooking.

Why can't you keep healthy habits going all year long?

What if you spent January figuring out how to create long-term habits, rather than just going all out for one month?

What needs to occur for you to create a true shift in your behaviour? Take some time to understand the deeper root of what is preventing you from long-term change. Pay attention, and notice how empowering it can feel to live a healthy lifestyle.

5. DO WHAT YOU WANT

What do you want to do?

Forget about fads and trends, or what you should do, or what your doctor, spouse or friend thinks you should do.

What is driving you? Improved energy at 4pm? Less pain when walking with friends? More muscle? Improved mood? Improved laboratory result or data point?

Focus on you and what interests you to change. What will motivate you to stay focused? What tools do you need to achieve success?

As you get clear on what truly drives you to change, ideally it will be more pleasant to achieve your goals. Take action on Feb 1.

Start the new year with a plan that leads you towards success.

Enjoy the process and create goals that will provide you with the health and wellness you want.

WASHINGTON POST

• Jae Berman is a registered dietitian, a personal trainer and owner of Jae Berman Nutrition.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2018, with the headline 'Making your New Year's resolution stick'. Print Edition | Subscribe