How to make New Year's resolutions your new reality

January 03, 2019


  • Millions of individuals in the US resolve to lose weight and get in shape each year.
  • New Year’s resolutions are most successful when they are clear, realistic, measurable, shared, rewardable, and flexible.

It’s once again time for auld lang syne — time to reflect on the previous year, and time to set some New Year’s resolutions. According to a recent survey, 45% of individuals resolved to lose weight and get in shape in 2018. But old habits die hard, and despite everyone’s best intentions, most New Year’s resolutions eventually fall by the wayside.

On the other hand, those who resolve have reported higher rates of success than those who do not resolve. Maybe it’s time to rethink the entire process. Instead of resetting the same old health goals, try these tips for establishing obtainable (and sustainable!) New Year’s resolutions.

When setting your goals, be sure that they are:

  • Clear. In order to work towards a goal, and know when you’ve truly obtained it, it is important to clearly define it. For example, instead of resolving to simply lose weight, ask yourself what this means to you: do you want to lose five pounds so your favorite jeans fit better, or, do you want to lose 50 pounds by the end of the year to lower your blood sugar and be able to ask your doctor if you might be able to stop taking diabetes medication?
  • Realistic. Scaling back on your aspirations may be key to success. Keep your resolutions manageable and be careful not to take on too much at once.
  • Measurable. Can you track progress towards your goal? How will you know when you’ve achieved it? For exercise related goals, think about where you’d like to be at the end of the year. Do you want to complete a marathon? Would you like to consistently workout five days per week? Consider tracking some statistics along the way: how many times you make it to the gym, or how many miles you’ve run.
  • Shared. Let your friends and family know what your goals are. This way, they will be able to better support you and not inadvertently sabotage your plans — like by offering you meat even though you’ve resolved to eat a strictly plant-based diet. Also, they will be able to hold you accountable by checking in on your progress. Perhaps they’ll even join you for some exercise sessions, or at least agree not to order dessert when you’re around.
  • Rewardable. Treat yourself — not only when you’ve achieved your goal, but also along the way. Consider non-food items to reward weight loss, buy yourself some new workout clothes, or splurge on front-row tickets to a concert.
  • Flexible. At some point, you may slip up on your commitment to your New Year’s resolutions, and that’s okay. If it happens, don’t let this completely derail you — get right back on plan! Be resilient and persistent. Nobody ever said changing your lifestyle was going to be easy, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be worthwhile!

For help managing your health and continuing your wellness journey, check out the health classes offered at Swedish, including smoking cessation, heart health, weight-loss education, diabetes prevention, and more.

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.