Are you ready with your New Year Resolutions for a Healthier You in 2022?  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- It is the last week of 2021 and most of us who love to make New Year Resolutions are already drafting and fine-tuning our plans for year 2022.
- What we need in this third year into the COVID pandemic is a practical plan that can be put into action in these restrictive and vulnerable times.
- Who better than a world-renowned hospital’s expert doctors to tell us what to prioritise and set out to achieve on the health front in 2021?
Resolutions are made to be broken, goes the sarcasm-loaded adage. University of California San Diego (UCSD) lists 12 of the most often made and most often broken New Year’s Resolutions. The list goes like this:
- Lose weight/exercise.
- Quit smoking.
- Learn something new.
- Eat healthier.
- Get out of debt/save money.
- Spend more time with family. Friends too.
- Watch less TV, spend less time on Facebook.
- Travel. Take your family. Go with friends.
- Be less stressed.
- Get more sleep.
- Drink less.
So shame in admitting we failed; at least, we tried!:
You know you made them, even if you never did commit them to paper. Come December and we are already planning in our heads — New Year Resolutions. By the time the new year rolls around, many people are well-versed with the classic promise: “I will start my diet on Monday.” In fact, by the end of December, many people have made that promise to themselves 52 times.
New Year’s resolutions are a blight of passage. January 1 witnesses earnest attempts on our parts. Later on, as the year rolls on, mostly, we fall short, but the glory is in the trying — and there’s always next year.
The Mayo Clinic Mantra: Listen to this doctor:
Dr Gabriel Berendes, M.D., is a Family Medicine physician in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Dr Berendes writes on the Mayo Clinic page, “New Year’s resolutions are easy to make, but not so easy to achieve. To make the resolution into an actual solution, you need to spend time preparing and planning. There is no magic button for keeping a resolution. The first step toward success is developing a structured health plan.”
STEP1: What must your Health Plan include?
1. WHERETO? The roadmap. Cite the aim/destination that you’re headed towards
2. Mention WHY you want to get there
3. Estimate WHAT challenges you may face along the way
4. HOW you plan to work through the challenges
STEP2: Create a health vision
Whenever we make a career or business plan, we imagine/visualise the achievable. The target visualisation helps us visualise what will be our gains after achieving the goal. Similarly, put your visualisation into words here. Put down your thoughts into a short, clear statement: your health vision. This could be one of the ways: “I want to ______, so ________.” and may look like, say, “I want to lose weight, so I have more energy to enjoy life.” or “I want to be physically fit, so I am no longer out of breath playing with my grandkids.” or even “I want to have a better balance between my work and personal life, so I have more quality time for myself and my family.”
STEP3: Set SMART goals
The word SMART here is actually an acronym made here by taking the first alphabet of five quality tests your goals must qualify on. Mayo Clinic report by Dr Gabriel Berendes says that goals help keep you focused after you record your health vision. Achieving identified goals produces a feeling of accomplishment and much-needed motivation to fuel your health journey. The SMART acronym says this about your goals:
- Specific — What am I going to do?
This will mean you must design and research a specific action plan that tells where to start and how.
- Measurable — How will I track my progress?
Instead of saying something unspecific like “I want better health” mention specific goals like “I want my elevated blood sugar levels to stabilise at 120 in 3 months” or “I want to lose 50 pounds in four months.”
- Achievable — What steps will I take to make this happen?
Get practical, get real. Set a realistic goal. You may want to say that you wish to walk 15,000 steps each day, but if the work schedules are tighter around weekdays and this target is better achieved cumulatively around weekends and Sundays, you can decide that you will walk 25,000 steps each on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Or if it is a weight loss program, talk to the instructor about realistic targets. Depending on the program you choose and the estimated average achievable, you may need to set a smaller, more attainable goal.
- Relevant — Is this important enough to me to want to do it?
Are you convinced that you need to do this and that you need the target that you are setting out to achieve? Think positively. Behaviour only changes from the positive. Remember there are programs to help you accomplish your goal.
- Time-framed — When will I do this?
Set a specific target date. Your “Day One” does not HAVE TO be on January 1. You can pick a suitable start date as and when you have a plan in place.
How to design and execute a plan to fruition:
- Set Short-term goals, first:
You may want to run a marathon right away but if you haven’t been exercising on a regular basis, there often is a need for intermediary, short-term goals. Initially, extend your efforts gradually, until you ultimately accomplish your long-term goal.
- Confront your temptations:
Remember, there will be challenges. It’s important to identify potential challenges and envision strategies to address them as part of an effective health plan. You will need to change your environment to help with your weight goals. Get rid of food that won’t help you realise your goal — this should be part of your planning.
- Tell your friends:
A network of family and friends can encourage and partner with you. Changing your habits for good may affect your inner circle of friends. Let them know what you’re trying to do and enlist their support in helping you achieve your goal.
- Remember the reward:
Make a list of the reasons you want to lose weight. Consider keeping a health journal to record your activities and achievements, adding to your motivation and accountability. When you lack reasons to change, it is easy to fall back into old habits.
- Be prepared for a setback:
Be kind to yourself. If you slip and fall off the health bandwagon once, dust yourself, stand up and jump right back onto that rake. Give yourself another chance. Most people slip up at some point. The people who are successful are the ones who get back on track. Look at how many days you still have left in the calendar year and see what you can accomplish before the year is up. We’re rooting for you … that should be reason enough to NEVER GIVE UP!
- Commit yourself:
You can’t take lifestyle changes lightly. Make your health a priority. Embracing a healthy lifestyle is an ongoing, dynamic process. Use the new year as an opportunity to start the journey to living a healthier life.
Key Takeaway: And when it is time next year to make a fresh set of resolves, look back on how you attempted the year before and share the success mantra with others. In fact, make that another resolution of yours — it will keep you motivated.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.
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