Make Your New Year’s Resolution to Stick with it Until the Fourth of July

| January 1, 2020

by Christopher D. Still, DO, FACN, FACP

Co-Clinical Editor of Bariatric Times; Medical Director for the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management, and Director for Geisinger Obesity Research Institute at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania.

Dear Colleagues:

We’ve all been there. We make the traditional New Year’s resolution to lose weight and get in shape. One week later, we realize we’re too busy or too tired to eat healthier and exercise regularly, so we give up.

That’s the problem. The year is 365 days long, so don’t give up. Take advantage of the entire year and resolve to stick with it for the long run.

And the way to do that is to measure your New Year’s resolution by July 4th rather than by February 4th. Think about it: If you can begin to make changes now and stick with it through July 4th, that’s the right way to approach a healthier lifestyle. Long-term efforts will translate into long-term benefits and success.

The thing about New Year’s resolutions is that while we have great intentions, we might set ourselves up for failure by setting unrealistic expectations. That’s particularly true about our exercise expectations. If we’re starting at zero exercise and resolve to do 30 minutes every day, that might be a “stretch.” We might actually only be able to achieve 2 to 5 minutes at a time, and that’s OK. We shouldn’t just quit after a couple of days, simply because we haven’t reached that 30-minute objective. Remember, when we are starting at zero or very little activity, we have a better chance of success if we increase slowly and work toward the end goal over a realistic period of time (30 minutes in this case). The fact is, 2 to 5 minutes of exercise is great. Just doing it 3 to 4 times a day is a great starting point for anybody. This is referred to as “occurrence” type of exercise.

So, with New Year’s resolutions, it’s about taking realistic expectations into account. Let’s make some realistic New Year’s resolutions, such as:

  • Eliminate caloric or sugared beverages, such as fruit juices and regular soda—and remember alcohol, believe it or not, has calories too.
  • Get weighed at least once a week
  • Try to increase your water consumption to eight, eight-ounce glasses a day, unless your physician advises otherwise
  • Try to limit total fat intake to about 40g per day. This will cut your calories in half because fat has double the amount of calories as protein and carbohydrates
  • Start with 2 to 5 minutes of exercise a few times daily, and build on that

When it comes to exercise, no matter what your physical capabilities are, you should strive for any activity that increases your heart rate, breaks a brow sweat, and does not allow you to carry on a leisurely conversation. That could be any activity that expends more energy than the day before.

Activities may include:

  • Parking further away from the office and adding some steps
  • Walking up the stairs to your office rather than riding the elevator
  • Taking the shuttle bus to your car only every other day or just in the mornings

What also keeps us accountable is a pedometer, which is inexpensive and can be purchased at any discount store or pharmacy. You want to eventually work up to 10,000 steps in a 24-hour period. This is approximately equal to the 30 minutes of recommended exercise, just spread out over the course of the day.

All of these small tips can make a big difference when it comes to calories we burn. And they could make all the difference when it comes to meeting your New Year’s resolution goal later in the year.

Keep in mind, nobody’s perfect. If you don’t meet your goals for one day, don’t feel like a failure and give up. Aim to keep your resolution intact until July 4th, not February 4th. And remember: There’s always tomorrow…thank God!

Sincerely,

Christopher D. Still, DO, FACN, FACP

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