It’s that time of year again…the time when we make resolutions to do things differently this year. We’re going to travel more, eat better, get moving, spend less time on social media…the options are endless. But realistically, most resolutions end up trashed before a month is out. If you’re looking to actually make changes in the new year, we’ve got some tips for you to follow!
What’s a GOOD New Year’s Resolution?
There isn’t any “perfect” resolution, but there could be a perfect resolution for you. It doesn’t really matter what the goal is; what’s important is how you set your goal. If you don’t plan out how you’re going to achieve and stick to your resolution, it’s really just a wish list.
When you are making your resolutions, think about more than just the end result. Plan out how you’re going to get there, what could stop you from accomplishing it, and how you’ll deal with those challenges. Also think about how you’ll measure success — if you’re specific with your goals, it’s easier to know if you’re doing what you set out to do. It also holds you accountable with yourself because you have something to track.
For example, “I want to eat better” is a good idea but not really a goal. “Better” is very relative, and it can vary by person or by day. Instead, be specific: “I am going to eat a fruit and vegetable with every meal” or “I am going to eat the recommended servings for each meal” are both more specific and give you guidance.
Help! I can’t think of a good goal!
While your goals can be really anything, we’ve got some ideas for popular resolutions. Remember, set a goal that makes sense for YOU. It doesn’t need to be anything ambitious; in fact, if it’s too ambitious, you probably are less likely to stick to it anyway.
Some ideas to get you started with your brainstorming include:
· Change up your splurges! We are all for dessert, but you could set a goal to add more nutritious options in that still satisfy that sweet tooth. Try chocolate-covered nuts, adding chocolate chips to peanut butter and celery, or mix in popcorn and nuts with your sugary snack to make you fuller, sooner.
· Stand up! Early studies indicate that even standing instead of sitting can improve your cardiovascular health. Obviously, adding in exercise is recommended — but if you don’t have time to go for a walk, just getting on your feet could help you feel better. There’s no real way to avoid sitting at many desk jobs, but you can still adjust your posture, which will help you be less sore in the neck and back.
· Make some me-time! Life is BUSY, and the days and months can pass in a blur. Taking some time for yourself can help manage your stress, which impacts your physical health, too. Going for a massage, taking a walk by yourself, and practicing deep breathing are just a few ways to check in with yourself, and many options don’t take that much time out of your day.
· Cut back on the vices. Whether it’s smoking, drinking, or something else, a New Year’s Resolution is a great time to address cutting back on it. And just like other resolutions, you’ll want to make a plan for cutting back instead of going cold turkey. There are many resources online with tips, and our team here at the pharmacy is a great resource, too!
How do I stick to my resolution?
You’ve got your goal, and you’ve made it specific, relevant to you, and attainable. Now for the other 51 weeks of the year…
The next step of sticking to a goal is tracking your progress. If you’re exercising more, use something like an iWatch or Fitbit to record what you do. If you’re changing your diet, start a food journal! Cutting out cigarettes? Figure out how much money you would spend on cigarettes each week and tally it up each week – all that extra money in your pocket AND a healthier choice is a win-win!
Being realistic doesn’t stop with your goal-setting; it’s important to be realistic throughout the year, too. Perfection isn’t attainable, and big changes take time. Instead of shooting to lose 25 pounds in a year, maybe you shoot for about 2 pounds each month. And just because you’re eating more fruits and vegetables, that doesn’t mean you can’t have ice cream sometimes. Setting small goals and giving yourself a break when you need it can go a long way toward keeping your spirits up and keeping you moving toward your long-term goal.
Though you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you get derailed, you SHOULD celebrate when you do a great job. When you hit those smaller milestones, make sure you acknowledge your progress. Tell your friends, treat yourself to a massage, or any other reward (that doesn’t undo your hard work, that is).
How do I deal with obstacles to my goal?
It can be hard to stick to a plan on a good day. With life being as busy at is, and potential other struggles like peer pressure, medical concerns, and temptations, that plan gets even harder to follow. But expecting and overcoming those challenges is all part of keeping your eye on the prize.
If you know there will be obstacles, you can prepare for them. If you know that having ice cream in the house is going to derail any plans to cut back on excess sugar, get that ice cream out of the house. That doesn’t mean you can’t have the treat sometimes — it just means you have to make it an occasion to go out for it!
Before you start, make a list of the benefits you think you’ll see if you stick with your goal and see results. Keep it somewhere that you can see easily, so it’s there to motivate you when you’re facing down those tests.
A huge part of dealing with any obstacles is having a support system. Make sure there are people in your life, either physically or virtually, that you can lean on when it’s rough-going (or celebrate with, when it’s going well). These people can hold you accountable and help motivate you when you just aren’t feeling it.
Finally, don’t give up! It’s not the end of the world if you slip up or have setbacks. If you work to get yourself back on track, you can still meet that goal. You’ll probably get a boost to your self-esteem, too, when you overcome that setback!
How can my pharmacy help me with my goals?
We’re here for your health journey, and that includes your resolutions! We know your health concerns and your meds, so we can help you plan your resolution and check for any concerns that could come up. For example, some medicines do better with meals and some are more effective on an empty stomach; we could help you adjust your medication schedule to get the best results out of it if you are changing your eating schedule.
We can also be a cheerleader! We love seeing our patients make goals and work toward being healthier. Having more support at your back is never a bad thing, and it could make you MORE motivated!
Don’t forget that we aren’t the only member of your healthcare team – your provider can give important support, too. Make sure you schedule that annual exam annually. Your provider can help you create a plan, make adjustments if you stall out, and give that extra encouragement that you’re on the right track.