Keep Your New Year's Resolution: How to Watch Your Weight While Drinking
At the beginning of a new year, it’s inevitable that a resolution of eating right, drinking less, and keeping slim and trim will be made. For the first few weeks of the new year we manage to accomplish just that, but eventually we realize that it is a lot more difficult to give up the fried foods and the booze than we thought.
The funny thing about weight maintenance is that everyone has a different opinion on how to do it. Some say cut back on the carbs and ramp up the cardio, while others say calorie counting and zero alcohol is the only way. What most people will agree on is the belief that drinking isn’t going to help you stay fit, and while that isn’t entirely untrue, it isn’t entirely true, either. Worry no more, my friends, we can still drink without feeling the guilt!
Below are a few tips and tricks to cut the guilt when it comes to drinking. Being healthy and fit doesn’t mean you have to cut things out of your life that you love, rather, we should be mindful of what we do indulge in so we don’t get carried away. Some of these suggestions may be no-brainers, but there are a few surprises as well. Cheers, and here’s to our health!
Low-Calorie Boozing. Over the past few years, liquor companies have been doing their best to come up with new and unique spirits to market to the masses. In 2011, Voli Vodka did just that. Voli, a low-calorie and high-electrolyte vodka, was released on the market and has done incredibly well, especially with women. The vodka comes in several delicious flavors, and comes with a selling point that not many vodkas can offer; low in calories but still delicious enough to drink on the rocks or in a cocktail. And with the electrolytes, your chances of a nasty hangover are slim to nil. It’s a win-win! Skinnygirl is also another low-calorie brand that cuts the fat, similar to Voli. However, be mindful of the carbs in this particular brand.
Clear Up Your Mixers. This may seem simple enough, but the fact of the matter is that most people don’t consider how many calories are in mixers. Dark sodas tend to have more calories and sugar than lighter ones, so opting for a soda water rather than a cola is probably the right way to go. Also, if you’re anything like me, you may be more inclined to not use any mixers. A good Scotch or bourbon is perfect on its own, so why ruin it with extra calories?
Light Beer, Right Beer. Recently I’ve seen a lot of commercials on television that hate on the typical "light" beer drinker, saying that he or she is a pansy of sorts based on their beer choice. Well to that I say hush up now, because there are several light beers that taste the same if not better than their non-light counterpart, and have half the calories. If you are serious about watching your weight but still want to indulge in alcohol, going with a light beer option is your best bet. Many light beers have far less calories than regular beers, and as long as you are burning more calories than you are taking in, the calories from your beer won’t be a huge impact on your body.
Avoid the Sweet. As an avid cocktail drinker, I find myself being drawn toward different kinds of cocktails, depending on the mood I’m in. My winter cocktail taste swings toward whiskey-heavy, smoky, or bitter. But in the summer I usually opt for something light and sweet, which can sometimes bite me in the buns. If your go-to cocktails ever require a syrup for the mixing, your best bet is to make the syrup at home, rather than buy it in a store. That way, you are able to control the amount of sugar that goes in, and even the kind of sugar that you use. Cutting down on the sugar will in turn cut down on the calories, making for a happier and healthier drink.
Sara Kay, The Spir.it
Drink More Wine. It's a Resolution You Can Keep.
Everyone is making New Year&rsquos resolutions these days.
And I worry that sometimes we set ourselves up for failure.
So for your 2016 wine resolution, I&rsquom keeping it simple:
Not because I think it&rsquos fabulous, but because there may really be some beneficial medical reasons to having a daily glass of wine.
Now, the studies out there are few and far between so you have to take them all with a grain of salt, but even if there is remote evidence that wine improves your health, why not?
And we are not just talking red wine. White wine and Champagne (yay!) all have benefits. too.
Meditation & Mindfulness
Headspace (iOS & Android)
Along with the creative and colorful animations that greet you each time you open the app, Headspace has a variety of guided meditations that you can choose from, including meditations focused on helping you live a happier life, sleep more, and reduce your stress and anxiety. The app will also prompt you to watch a new 3-5 minute daily "The Wake Up" video each morning, which can be a great way to start your day off on a mindful note. Many of the meditations offered require a subscription purchase, but there are free options to choose from as well.
MyLife Meditation (iOS & Android)
MyLife Meditation is a neat app to try if youɽ like targeted meditations based on how you're feeling in a particular moment. Each time you open the app, you'll be prompted to rate how you're feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally, and then the app will recommend meditations that would suit your needs based on your answers. Some of the recommended meditations require a subscription purchase, but there are also free options to choose from. After your meditation, you will be prompted to rate how you're feeling again. You may be surprised to find out just how much a short meditation can improve your mood!
How to Stick to Your New Year’s Goals
As we mentioned earlier, starting small is key for setting up goals and resolutions because you want to build up that self-confidence and momentum for bigger goals. Just like how you wouldn’t skii a black diamond before conquering the bunny slopes, you want to train yourself for goal setting and achieving.
Track your progress with goal journaling
Writing down your resolution(s) for the New Years is the first step to setting your intention to achieve it, but don’t stop there. Create an action plan, schedule, and log daily/weekly/monthly check-ins to reflect on your progress.
This will help you understand what works (and doesn’t) when it comes to your resolution, and keep you focused on reaching your goal.
Stay accountable with health coaching
Staying accountable can be tough when you’re accomplishing goals and resolutions on your own. We’ve all been there. That’s why having a consistent support system is key.
While friends and family are great for checking in to see if we’re still on track, sometimes we need more guidance to map out our road to success.
Yes Health coaches are all certified to help you reach your goals whether it’s in physical fitness, healthier eating habits, or better mental well-being. And unlike traditional methods of coaching, they can coach you directly through the Yes Health app from the convenience of your living room.
Fast Food and Your New Year's Resolution
Food-related resolutions are high on the list for those who do the resolution-thing each year. Sixty percent of those making New Year's resolutions, according to a recent poll by Harris Interactive on behalf of Applebees restaurants, make food-related New Year's resolutions. Of those:
- "71 percent agree that it is more difficult to keep their food-related resolutions when dining out than when eating at home
- "75 percent say that having a wide variety of lower-calorie meals to choose from when dining out would make it easier for them to keep those resolutions and
- "41 percent resolve to lower their overall calorie intake."
Applebees funded the survey to help promote their own "Unbelievably Great Tasting and Under 550 Calories" menu which is being offered at their New York City locations but Applebees is hardly the first restaurant chain to offer such a menu. The past couple of years have seen enormous growth in the offering of healthier or, at least, not-as-bad-for-you offerings in the quick-service market. A quick promenade through Internet-land makes it clear that, while this trend may change over time, it's left on indelible mark on fast-food menus around the country.
What does that mean? It means you've got choices but, as Fitness Magazine points out, it's a good idea to do a little homework before you venture out:
- "Be spontaneous: Learn to be flexible and creative when eating out or traveling. Come up with a list of pre-approved foods you know are low in calories so you can avoid making too many on-the-spot decisions.
- "Fast food is okay: There are low-calorie options available. Learn them before arriving at the restaurant."
While plenty of quick-service places now have low-calorie options available, they're usually not the items being heavily promoted. Those calorie-conscious options aren't there just for your health.
"Salads and other healthy foods are at McDonald's and other restaurants because of what's called the 'veto effect,'" John Stanton, PhD, professor of food marketing at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, told Web MD. "If there are five people who want to go to lunch together and one says, 'I don't want a hamburger,' that person can veto the other four from going there. If a salad is available, McDonald's can do what it really wants to -- sell the other four hamburgers."
Of course &ndash and you knew this was coming &ndash there are plenty of other pitfalls to watch for, as well. If you've been frequenting places that offer lots of choices made from organic ingredients in an effort to watch your weight, you might need to rethink your strategy. Just because an item is organic doesn't mean it's low-calorie or low-fat. Organic simply refers to how the ingredients were grown or produced, it has nothing to do with calorie or fat content. Organic Authority describes an experiment to gauge public understanding of the term 'organic':
"Researchers presented the students with two types of cookies labeled 'Oreo cookies' or 'Oreo cookies made with organic flour and sugar,' both were clearly marked as containing 160 calories. And guess what? Students perceived the cookies labeled 'organic' had fewer calories and admitted they would eat more of them."
So, what's a resolution-swearing, calorie-counting, fast food junkie to do? Happily, there are plenty of options. Of course, if you decide to take Fitness Magazine's approach and plan ahead, plan ahead a little more and take advantage of some do-it-yourself fast food with recipes right here at Delish.
Drink More Water
Water helps remove toxins in the body and flush out the system. It can also help with feelings of fullness. Oftentimes the body may misinterpret thirst for hunger. Staying hydrated can help prevent overeating when not hungry. The calories in your beverages do count. Alcohol, soda, and juices can add a lot of extra calories and unnecessary sugar to your client&rsquos diet. Encourage them to replace the soda with a glass of water and try adding some lemon or lime to add extra flavor.
5. Follow The Right Weight Loss Plan
One of the most effective ways to promote healthy weight loss – and maintain it – is to use a personalized diabetes management plan.
A balanced diet consists of foods that make you feel full and helps reduce hunger-inducing hormones in your body. It can also boost your metabolism and help to curb your appetite.
It’s essential to reduce the overall number of carbs you consume because this is the main culprit for high blood pressure. Carbs are your body’s main source of energy, but too much of them is one of the leading causes of diabetes.
Along with regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle, this can make it substantially easier for you to both lose weight and maintain your progress.
Unfortunately, the internet is full of misinformation about diets for people with diabetes, and finding the right nutrition plan for your specific needs can be almost impossible.
Thankfully, one company – MyDiabetes – offers personalized plans, designed to help you kick-start your New Year’s weight-loss resolutions the right way. Learn more about them here >>>
Exactly What to Do if Your New Year&rsquos Resolution Is Already Slipping
Feel your resolve getting weak? A behavioral psychologist explains the most common reasons resolutions fail&mdashand how to make yours stick.
With each new year comes a new opportunity to better ourselves. We vow to kick our sugar addictions, call our parents more, and check Facebook less. Yet within weeks, most of us are back to snacking, screening parentalꃊlls, and mindlessly scrolling through our newsfeeds.
But before you become one more person observingitch Your New Year’s Resolutions Day (yep, it’s a real thing January 17 is the day most people throw in the towel), know this: There’s still time to revamp a resolution that&aposs losing steamਊnd initiate the lasting change you aimed for back on January 1. “The most important thing is to first figure out the top reasons why resolutions fail, and then use that to get back on track,” says behavioral psychologist Art Markman, PhD.
Markman, the author of Smart Change: Five Tools to Create New and Sustainable Habits in Yourself and Others explains the top five reasons New Year’s resolutions fail𠅊nd the small tweaks to make to fix each mistake.
Your resolution is framed in a negative way
We often make resolutions around what we want to stop doing instead of what we want to start doing, says Markman. “When you have a behavior you’re trying to change, whether it’s eating less or checking your email fewer times a day, you actually have to put another behavior in its place,” he explains. “The key is to focus on a positive action that you’re going to perform in the situation where you were doing the old behavior.”
So instead of vowing to give up a certain behavior or do without something, frame your resolution around the new positive action you will do in place of it. Let&aposs say you want to quit mindlessly scrolling through your phoneਊt night. Instead of pledging to turn off your device by 10 p.m., vow to start getting ready for bed at that time instead. This way, you unplug digitally while rewarding yourself with more sleep𠅊 positive action that can motivate real change.
Your end goal is too vague
Resolving to exercise twice a week sounds like a solid plan, but it isn’t targeted enough, says Markman. “Your goal has to be so specific that the actions you’re going to take [to accomplish it] can make it onto your calendar,” he says. “‘Twice a week’ isn’t on your calendar, but ‘Mondays and Thursdays at 4 p.m.’ is.”
Getting specific doesn’t just help you realize what you need to do in order to see your resolution through it also highlights the things that could get in the way of it (think: your weekly manicure also scheduled at 4 p.m. on Thursdays). Start accounting forਊll possible roadblocks, and add into your planner the steps you’re taking to get them out of the way so you can actually make it to the gym, rather than make excuses.
You don't address the root cause
In order to carry out a resolution, you need to know the who, what, when, where, and why of the behavior you’re trying to change. For example, if want to stop biting your nails, pay attention to the circumstances under which you engage in the habit.
“I encourage people failing at their resolution to keep a habit diary for a week or two,” says Markman. “Not so they can change their behavior, but just to watch it and see what they’re doing.” Once you realize that you always bite your nails while anxiously finishing a work project, you’ll be better equipped to take actions to stop it—like buying desk toys to busy your hands throughout the day or just being more mindful about keeping your fingers on your keyboard as the deadline ticks away.
You think it's all about willpower
Willpower is overrated. According to Markman, people often believe their commitment is enough to prevent them from falling back into their bad habits. Sadly, a pantry full of cheese popcorn isn’t going to magically become less tempting just because you’ve told yourself you’ll stop gobbling it down while you watch Netflix.
𠇊t this point you’re riding the brakes,” says Markman. “Your motivational system is reminding you of the snack in the kitchen and you have to rely on your willpower to keep you from eating it. But just like in a car, if you ride the brakes long enough, they’re going to fail.”
The solution? Rather than relying on willpower, structure your environment so the thing you want or habit you&aposre trying to break is so difficult to get or do that won’t bother attempting it. Because you can’t eat a pint of ice cream you never bought, right?
You&rsquore going at it alone
News flash: If you succeed in carrying out your resolution, no one’s going to say Congratulations, but it&aposs not that big a deal because you had a support system. “If you find yourself ditching your resolution, phone a friend,” suggests Markman. 𠇏ind somebody who’s willing to serve as your backup so that when you’re about to slip, you can call or text them for support instead.” Crushing your goalsoesn’t count any less if you do it with a little help from your friends.
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12 Scientifically Proven Ways to Succeed at Your New Year's Resolutions
The pandemic doesn't seem to have dampened Americans' enthusiasm for linking a New Year to a fresh start. More than two thirds of Americans plan to make a resolution for 2021, polls show, which is roughly the same as in years past. What has changed: The most common objectives for 2021 look strikingly different from traditional New Year promises, and attitudes about when, how and why to tackle key goals have changed as well.
The reason: More than half of Americans say their usual pre-COVID January 1 resolutions&mdashthink, hitting the gym more often or nabbing a big raise&mdasharen't applicable to their lifestyle anymore. Seven in 10 say they are tossing out materialistic pledges and instead looking to learn life skills, improve overall wellness or savor experiences, like time with family, according to a survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Affirm.
And while doing a better job of managing money remains a top priority, the motivation people give for wanting to make a financial change has shifted too. Previously, the top reason people gave for pledging to adopt better money habits in a new year was to live a debt-free life, according to Fidelity Investments, which conducts an annual poll on financial resolutions for the New Year. In 2021, this year's survey found, they're looking to achieve greater peace of mind.
"People want to feel like they're moving forward and regaining control," says Stacey Watson, senior vice president of life event planning at Fidelity.
Getting there, though, will take a lot more than good intentions. Research shows that people typically abandon their New Year's resolutions within six months and the health, financial and social stresses of the first half of 2021, when the pandemic will still be widespread, will likely make sticking to your pledges even more challenging.
"Uncertainty and hardship related to COVID-19 may make it especially difficult to prioritize New Year's resolutions in 2021," says Charles Herrick, chair of psychiatry at Nuvance Health's Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and Norwalk Hospital. "Many people may cling to old, familiar, comfortable habits in an attempt to maintain some degree of stability in these uncertain times. This may make it harder to make the changes required to achieve new goals."
What can help steel your resolve: practical strategies and tricks based on a growing body of behavioral research about the factors that enable people to successfully change their habits and stick with new ones. In fact, studies show that people who use these evidence-based techniques are far more likely to achieve their goals or make significant progress than those who don't&mdashin one study, at least, up to 10 times more likely.
After the year everyone has had, those seem like pretty good odds to take.
HOW TO MAKE BETTER RESOLUTIONS
Knowing the right way to frame your goal is half the battle. Behavioral researchers and psychologists with expertise in goal setting recommend the following evidence-based strategies:
Commit to the Change
People often dismiss New Year's resolutions as a silly or useless exercise given their high failure rate. But research shows the very act of making them greatly increases the likelihood you'll meet your goal, or at least get a lot closer to it than you would otherwise.
In one study, John Norcross, author of Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions, tracked nearly 300 people in two groups who had some problematic behavior, such as smoking or failing to exercise enough, that they wanted to change. The only difference was that one group of participants actively resolved to work on changing their behavior starting January 1, the other did not. At the end of six months, Norcross, a professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, found that those who had made an explicit resolution were far more likely to have successfully changed their behavior than those who hadn't&mdash46 percent of resolvers succeeded versus just 4 percent of the non-resolvers group.
Making the resolution at least a few days in advance of the New Year instead of, say, five minutes before midnight on December 31, also likely increases your odds of success. That's because this kind of pre-commitment encourages you to anticipate and prepare for your new routine. And, it comes with an in-built start date forcing you to take action, not delay for some ideal future time.
Pre-commitment, for example, helped one group of taxpayers substantially increase the amount they saved of their refund from Uncle Sam. In a study conducted by Common Cents Lab, Duke University's behavioral finance research lab, one group of taxpayers were asked to save a portion of their tax refund when the money hit their bank account and another group was asked how much they wanted to save of their refund before they'd filed their taxes. Those who made a spur of the moment decision to save, put away 17 percent of their refund, compared to 27 percent, on average, for those who pre-committed to saving.
Most Americans make two resolutions each year, on average, Norcross found, but for 2021 he recommends scaling back. "Most of us are preoccupied with pandemic concerns," he says. "We can't bring the same commitment, motivation, or prioritization to our resolutions as we could in other years. Think of it like trying to drive while distracted."
Even in an ordinary year, picking a single resolution to focus on can increase your odds of success, as a series of four studies by researchers at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management found. Participants who were encouraged to identify one savings goal, such as saving for a child's education ended up putting away more money over the six-month period of the study than those who were prompted to save simultaneously for multiple goals, such as saving for college, retirement and healthcare needs. The researchers concluded that the multiple goals competed with each other and increased the likelihood people would over-deliberate about how to proceed and delay the actions needed to achieve their goals.
Act SMART&mdashand Be Realistic
The SMART strategy, an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound, provides a useful rule of thumb to follow when framing your resolution. Using these guidelines, for instance, a vague pledge to "save more money this year" might become a resolution to "automatically direct $100 from each paycheck into a high-yield savings account for all of 2021."
Numerous research studies have shown that people perform better when striving to achieve specific and challenging goals, rather than equally specific but overly-easy goals or vague goals like "do your best." So set the bar high, but be mindful of putting it in the clouds. Resolving to complete a marathon in six months' time when you've never even gone jogging, will likely set you up for disappointment, frustration, and eventually quitting. A more realistic ambition to go jogging for 30 minutes three times a week is likely a better starting point as small wins early on will motivate you to do more, Herrick says.
Target Behavior, Not Results
Jelena Kecmanovic, director of the Arlington/DC Behavior Therapy Institute and a psychology professor at Georgetown University, warns that goals should be centered around factors you control, such as your own behavior, rather than a particular outcome. Resolving to lose 10 pounds sounds like a clear, realistic ambition but it is dependent on the weight actually coming off. Instead, focus on things like limiting dessert to one night a week or going for a 30-minute nightly walk after dinner instead of watching TV, which could lead to the desired weight loss.
The goal also needs to matter most to and be inspired by you, not someone else. If you're making this change because of societal pressures or the opinion of someone else, you're likely to fail, says Herrick. And data backs this up. Research published in Canadian Psychology says that when goals reflect a person's individual values, they do better at achieving it because they "experience less conflict and feel a greater sense of readiness to change their behavior."
Anticipate the Triggers
To achieve your resolution, you'll probably need to make some alterations to your daily life to counter the problem behavior. Think about what situations or emotions lead to it and what a better alternative might be. So if you smoke when you're feeling anxious or stressed, successfully quitting may involve you taking up running, meditation or breathing exercises as an alternate way to ease that tension.
Research has shown that such "if-then" plans can improve your self-control and the likelihood of attaining your goal. For instance, a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that college students who used this technique to curtail unhealthy snacking&mdashby, say, deciding to eat a favorite fruit or vegetable instead of chips or cookies whenever they were feeling bored or in need of enjoyment&mdashconsumed more healthy snacks per day and fewer calories of unhealthy foods than participants who lacked such an if-then plan.
The key, says Kecmanovic, is to try to anticipate as many different situations that could tempt you and make a specific plan for what you'll do instead in each of those moments. That way your brain almost goes into autopilot and you don't have to deliberate over how to respond.
Most people naturally desire to avoid letting people down and feel embarrassed when they do. So use that feeling to help you make good on your resolution, Herrick suggests. Tell your partner, family, friends or co-workers that you've undertaken a resolution, he says, and how you plan to achieve it. A study conducted by the American Society of Training and Development found that the odds of completing a goal rose to 65 percent for people who shared their objectives with someone else, and to 95 percent for those who went an extra step and set up regular appointments to check in with that person.
If someone else's opinion of your efforts isn't sufficiently motivating, try putting some money on the line. This could mean giving a family member $100 to hold for you until you reach your goal&mdashthey get to keep it if you fall short&mdashor using a goal-setting website like stickK.com to make a financial pledge to a charity of your choice if you quit. StickK finds that users who add financial incentives are three times more likely to keep their resolutions than those who don't.
HOW TO STICK TO YOUR RESOLUTIONS
Once you've framed your resolutions in a way that makes them easier to achieve, set yourself up for long-term success with these steps.
People with strong willpower don't resist temptation, they avoid it by arranging their home, office and social life in a way that limits exposure to situations that trigger the habit they want to change, according to research published in the academic journal Personality and Individual Differences. For instance, if you looking to save money, try unsubscribing from all retail email lists, and unfollowing brands, stores or influencers on social media, says Wendy De La Rosa, a behavioral scientist and co-founder of the Common Cents Lab: "The best way to avoid spending temptation is to just not get those notifications at all."
A survey that the Common Cents team conducted of restaurant diners demonstrates the relative effectiveness of reducing the number of times you put yourself in a position to be tempted into behavior you're trying to change. More than 1,300 people were polled about different techniques aimed at curbing spending on eating out the options included setting a dining-out budget, limiting the number of times you go to a restaurant per week and cutting the amount you allow yourself to spend on a single meal. The best method? Dialing back on restaurant visits. Simply removing access to those tempting dishes gave people greater confidence they could stick to their goal and save more overall. Study participants estimated they would save $74 a month, vs. $56 for limiting spending per restaurant visit and $44 for setting a weekly budget for dining out.
Make It Easy to Be Good
If you're looking to eat better, stock your fridge with pre-cut fruits and raw veggies to snack on. Or if you're hoping to save money on takeout, load up on your favorite ingredients so you're inspired to cook after work and not reach for the UberEats app or stop in at your favorite diner.
"In the future, we think we will be perfect, we are all going to be our own personal version of Beyonce," says De La Rosa. "We think our future selves can do more than we can today, so use that to your advantage by making decisions now for the future." One way to do that: Block out daily or weekly time in your 2021 calendar now or set up reminders through your apps to prompt you to, say, practice Spanish for 15 minutes, reach 10,000 steps or call your family for a catch-up.
A study out of the University of British Columbia showed how effective this kind of self-nudge can be when you're initially trying to change behavior. It found that when individuals who had participated in a diabetes prevention program were prompted to work out by an app, the amount of exercise they reported to be doing significantly increased in the three days after receiving the message compared to the three days before receiving the prompt. One drawback: The strategy only works for the first six months.
Track Your Progress
With some goals, like reducing debt, it is easy to see how your efforts are literally paying off, when you watch your outstanding balance drop consistently. But for other resolutions, you may need to get more creative about how you record your efforts, maybe by journaling, taking photos to see incremental changes or downloading an app that automatically tracks your spending or periods of movement. This kind of "self-monitoring" increases the probability of you'll keep up the good behavior, says Norcross.
For example, in a study of overweight women aged 50 to 74 in rural Florida published by the journal Eating Behaviors, participants in a weight-loss program were asked to record their food and drink consumption. Those with the highest number of entries after six months lost the most: 14 percent of their body weight, on average&mdashand they continued to lose weight over the following year, shedding more than 20 percent of their total body weight when the researchers followed up at 18 months. By contrast, participants with fewer food-and-drink entries lost significantly less weight after six month and regained half of it by the 18-month mark.
Why does the simple act of monitoring your behavior work so well? Two large-scale studies, one focused on people who wanted to lose weight and the other on subjects looking to curtail alcohol consumption, found that tracking helps people take greater responsibility for their actions, rather than blaming it on external factors. The research, published in the journal Digital Health, also found that it inspires helpful interpersonal competition as people strive to break previous records and remain on track to reach their goal.
Recording your progress can also serve as a motivation booster when you begin to flag. The trick is to focus on whatever perspective&mdashthe progress you've made so far or how much you have left to go&mdashmakes the amount of effort involved seem smaller, according to a series of studies published in The Journal of Consumer Research. So early in the year, reflect on the 20 percent of the resolution you've already completed as opposed to the 80 percent remaining&mdashsay, the 2,000 steps a day you're now taking if your ultimate goal is 10,000, not the 8,000 you have yet to walk. But when you're closer to the mark, flip that perspective and focus on the fact that you only have 2,000 more steps a day to go before you hit the desired 10-000-step level.
Reward Good Behavior
Changing a habit is hard and initially the benefits from such efforts may not be enough to keep you motivated. For instance, the release of endorphins from a new exercise regime may not outweigh the initial soreness or muscle cramps you're feeling.
So reinforce your positive steps with a small treat you'll only get to enjoy if you engage in that new habit, says Norcross, who became a daily flosser when he decided he wasn't going to allow himself to play a round of golf, his favorite pastime, at the weekend if he hadn't flossed each morning of the preceding week.
Just remember the reward shouldn't undo the good progress you're making. So a week of saving an additional $100 shouldn't earn you a new pair of shoes or dinner out, but rather a chance to indulge in that Netflix series you've wanted to watch or a visit to that new hiking trail you're eager to climb.
Find a Support Group
"Most of us can get through the first couple of weeks on our own, but our commitment begins to erode over time and that's where a support person or group can help," says Norcross, adding this usually becomes essential toward the end of January.
These people will follow up on your progress and cheerlead your efforts two or three times more than they will critique them, he adds: "Pick positive, enthusiastic people, not naysayers."
Joining a group of people with similar aims can be a great way to find this kind of positive support and encourage change. A study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, for instance, found that when people, who were trying to achieve a weight loss goal, did so along with three friends or family members, they shed more pounds than those who went it alone and were also more successful at maintaining their new weight: Only one in four doing the program alone did not regain any weight after 10 months vs. two-thirds of those doing it with friends.
We also tend to mirror the behavior of people we like and admire, says Herrick, so surround yourself with like-minded individuals who will help reinforce the new habit.
Get Back on the Horse
You will slip up&mdashand more than once. It is inevitable. But that slip shouldn't be an excuse to give up on your goal. Instead, pick yourself up and recommit, says Norcross, whose research found that 71 percent of successful resolvers say a misstep actually strengthened their drive to see the goal through.
And skip beating yourself up over a mistake too. Harsh self-criticism or guilt doesn't help and could even prevent you from accomplishing your goal, according to research published in the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. The study looked at drinkers who had violated their self-imposed alcohol limits and found that strong feelings of guilt led to poorer self-regulation, and, in turn, actually increased consumption and led to more limit violations.
"We seem to expect perfection, which is maddening," says Norcross. "If you bake muffins perfectly 300 times and mess them up once, would you give up baking them? No, you'd try again."
And remember, research shows, it takes three months before a change in behavior becomes routine. Fingers crossed, by April, you'll be reaping the rewards of your 2021 resolve.