Smart Health: Resolutions can start anytime; let go of old habits to get fit and healthy and lose weight

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By Kristen Mees
St. Elizabeth Healthcare

It’s that time of year again. January is coming, and you are ready to push the reset button and stop all of your bad habits.

For the past few years, the No. 1 and No. 2 New Year’s resolutions have been to get fit and healthy and lose weight, but only 8 percent of people felt they kept those resolutions.

Rachel Wagner, MS, LD, a registered dietitian at St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center says, “If you are like most people and want to make health improvements in the New Year, it would be a mistake to wait until January 1. By waiting, you are essentially giving yourself permission to let go of good habits in the final days of the year.”

Reaching Your Health Improvement Goals
Wagner suggests setting goals today, instead of waiting until January 1. She also offers these tips to help you be successful in reaching your health improvement goals.

1. Make the goal time-based and short in duration. Creating a goal that lasts just a few weeks is easier to achieve and will provide you positive reinforcement for good behavior. The goal should be as specific as possible so you can track your success. Don’t make a goal for all of 2018. Start with a two-week goal and focus on achieving that goal. Then create a new goal.

2. Make the goal measurable. Make sure your goals aren’t so general you can’t measure success. Rather than saying you want to lose weight, make a goal of losing one pound every week for six weeks.

3. Make the goal realistic. Don’t make grandiose goals that an Olympic athlete may have a hard time reaching. Make sure the goals are very specific. Instead of a goal of eating healthier, your goal should be to eat three servings of fruits and vegetables every day for two weeks. Evaluate after that time period to see if you achieved that goal or what your barriers were to achieving that goal. Then you can set the next goal, keeping in mind what you learned.

4. Don’t punish yourself if you slip. No one is perfect, so your path to health and wellness won’t be perfect either. If you slip up or don’t reach your goals, just start over immediately. We all make mistakes but if you want to achieve your goals you have to forgive yourself and start over.

Tools to Help You Stay Focused
Reaching your health and wellness goals is achievable, and there are a lot of tools that can help you stay focused on reaching your goals.
Wagner suggests the following tools to help you stay focused:

• Journaling – simply writing down how you have performed toward your goal every day can help you stay on track.

• MyFitnessPal – a free online app for your phone that can help you count calories, track weight loss, and track exercise. – a website and app aimed at making healthy decisions fun and rewarding. It is a tool to help you track your healthy activities and get paid if you achieve a certain number of points. It also connects with over 30 other online fitness trackers.

• Fitocracy – an online app for your phone that can make fitness fun. It lets you earn points, unlock achievements, embark on adventures, and beat quests. You can also get motivation from other users. – a website and app that has free videos to help get you moving. Videos are as short as five minutes, so it has something for every fitness level. – a website that helps you set and track your goals and empower behavioral change. This tool can be used for any goal, not just health and wellness. You can create a commitment contract and you must login and track your success.

• Apple Health – an app on every apple phone that tracks your steps and other health goals when you have the phone with you. – it takes 21 days to make a new habit or break an old habit. On the paid version of the program you pay $21 and every day you meet your goal you get $1 back. If you don’t reach that goal, a dollar will go to a preset charity of your choice.

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