Resolutions that stick

How you can craft New Year’s resolutions that will last

Jump roping exercise

With the holiday season fading in the rearview mirror, Portlanders are now thinking about their goals, wishes and resolutions for the new year. While many folks use the new year as a clean slate to set new health, fitness and diet goals, many will see those optimistic targets fall away by Valentine’s Day. Simply put, a lot of people make resolutions that are not realistic or clearly defined. Setting resolutions to improve your health is a wonderful practice, but you have to understand what it will take to achieve those goals and be successful.

When setting a New Year’s resolution, the most important question to ask yourself is, “Is this realistic?” You are far more likely to stick with a plan if your goals are attainable. If you aren’t sure where to start or how to set benchmarks, The Portland Clinic has vast resources for healthy lifestyle resolutions, including dietitians, physical therapists, psychologists and general practice physicians to help guide you to success. Here are a few guidelines to help you get started:

  • Track your progress. Weight loss, strength and flexibility gains, and increased endurance build in small increments. Measure where you are today and keep an updated log throughout the year. Those small improvements add up over time.
  • Are you planning to lose weight? Establish a monthly goal, rather than a number for the year. If you plan to lose 60 pounds within the year, work to lose five pounds a month — a much more realistic goal, especially if your schedule gets disrupted.
  • Is eating healthy your number-one priority? Expand your culinary repertoire at home rather than simply vowing to eat healthier. Take a cooking class and curb your take-out indulgences. Consult with a nutritionist about a healthy meal plan and stay away from fad dieting, which may lead to unhealthy binging.
  • Does your resolution mean more time in the gym? Increased physical activity and proper form are important. Understanding good execution will reduce potential injuries and frustration. Whether you hit the gym, increase the distance of your walks or try yoga, speak with your physician and a physical therapist to ensure you are healthy enough to engage in a new workout routine.
  • Are you looking to reduce stress? First, be aware of common warning signs of depression and other stress-related ailments that may affect your goals. Understand what’s causing your stress, rather than trying to jump right into a general “stress-free” outlook on life.

Regardless of your goal, the key to keeping a resolution is not to quit. It may take a few weeks or months to see progress, but remember your motivation. Even small steps toward a healthier lifestyle can add up over time. Stay motivated and healthy, everyone. Happy New Year!