Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tip of the Day: Make 'SMART' new year's resolutions

People typically have well-meaning aspirations when it comes to setting their New Year’s resolutions. Actually sticking to those resolutions is of course more difficult. The personal health coaches at Gordian Health Solutions are sharing their tips for keeping 10 common new year’s resolutions. According to Gordian, it is important to make “SMART” resolutions (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Rewarding, Timely).

Their list for making 10 SMART-er resolutions:

1. “Start working out." Make the action steps more specific, like, “I will walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes, three to four times a week” or “I will wear a pedometer to work.”

2. “Lose weight” or “Lose 30 pounds.” Make your goal more achievable and timely, like “I will lose 5 pounds by the end of the month.” Then come up with action steps involving nutritional changes, exercise, etc.

3. “Eat better.” Change your thinking from, “I’m going on a diet,” to “I’m making lifestyle changes to improve my eating habits.” Consider keeping a food journal to find specific areas you can change. Specific action steps could be limiting sweets and fast food and eating more fruits and vegetables.

4. “Quit smoking.” Set a realistic quit date. Make sure you're not setting yourself up to fail by trying to quit during a stressful time. Talk to your doctor and consider using nicotine replacement therapy such as nicotine patches, gum or medications. Clear your home of all smoking-related paraphernalia (cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays). Set action steps to reduce tobacco intake slowly, like “I will cut back by one cigarette per day over the next week.” Also think about a plan to deal with cravings and challenging situations.

5. “Reduce stress.” Identify and write down your stressors. Identify positive steps you can take when feeling stressed and what sources of support you have. A realistic action step might be something like, “During times of stress, I will practice deep breathing techniques, write in a journal or go for a walk to clear my head.”

6. “Give up fast food.” It is not always possible for some people to give up all fast food, so begin by familiarizing yourself with the healthier options on fast food menus. Try using restaurants’ websites to look up nutrition information, or pick up nutrition pamphlets inside restaurants.

7. “Stop drinking soda.” It may not be realistic to cut out all soda at once. Think about ways to decrease the amount of soda you are drinking. For example, try mixing diet soda into regular to cut the calories, or try substitutions like flavored water, unsweetened tea or green tea.

8. “Drink more water." Set realistic, specific steps like, “I will get a water bottle to carry with me” or “I will replace high-calorie beverages with water or flavored water.”

9. “Get more sleep.” Set a specific bedtime, and stick to a consistent schedule to get your body adjusted. Families with children can especially benefit from having a consistent routine for getting to bed at the same time each night.

10. “Cut back on alcohol.” Quantify how much alcohol you are drinking now. Decide what might be a realistic amount to cut back to. For example, if you typically drink six or eight beers, limiting yourself to two beers might be your goal. If needed, devise a step-by-step plan with action steps like, “I will remove alcohol from my home” or “I will avoid situations where alcohol will be served.” Identify supportive people or join a support group.

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