It’s February. What was your New Year’s resolution?
Thinking back, do you remember what your resolution was last year? And more important, did you keep it?
Many people wonder if New Year’s resolutions are even worth making. How many times have you set out with good intentions, only to break your resolution just a few weeks later?
Not surprisingly, most New Year’s resolutions fail. And it’s not for a lack of trying. The problem is that most people set unattainable, completely unrealistic resolutions like: • “I’m going to cut out all fats and all sugars.” • “I’m going to exercise twice a day, every day.” • “I’m going to stop drinking alcohol entirely.”
How can you make your resolution a success?
Start by setting realistic goals. Losing 50 pounds by Mardi Gras isn’t in the cards for most people, but losing a pound or two a week is a reasonable goal.
Make sure your goal is meaningful to you, so that achieving it will add value to your life. Also, be certain that your goal is specific. If it’s vague or poorly defined, it’s too easy to lose focus and determination.
Once you establish your objective, it’s time to decide just how you’re going to get there. This is the point where you assess your actions and see which behaviors need to be—and can be—improved.
(This part can often be much tougher than just setting your long-range goal!)
These behavioral changes should be specific, realistic and measurable. A few examples include:
• Eating breakfast daily
• Waking up 40 minutes earlier to exercise before work
• Cutting out sugary soft drinks
• Taking walks after dinner
• Reducing midnight snacks
The idea is to break your long-range goal into smaller behavioral changes and milestones. This helps to identify exactly what you need to do to succeed.
Human nature is such that the more people you share your goal with, the more it will feel like a reality. Consider enlisting the help of a partner to help you follow through on your behavioral changes. The buddy system can help keep you both accountable and focused.
Q:Dear Molly, I am a 50-year-old man who is coming out of a long marriage. I now get my kids every second weekend and I have to do something I have never done before—cook. I want to keep my kids healthy, but I have no idea where to start. Can you offer any insight?
—Jim O’Conner – Kenner
Okay, Jim, here’s my philosophy: You get to spend two weekends with your kids each month, and this time should be as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. If grocery shopping, cooking and washing dishes isn’t your idea of a fun-filled weekend, then don’t put that pressure on yourself!
Mealtime can still be a nutritious and family-focused event at restaurants, even at some fast food places, as long as you make informed choices. So instead of feeling stressed about cooking, consider putting that energy into educating your kids on dining out—healthfully. Guide them toward lean meats, salads, vegetables and whole grains. Gently steer them away from fried foods, cream-based sauces, and refined, processed foods.
If you do decide to venture into that unknown terrain known as cooking, stick with the same general guidelines. Grill lean meats (either on a traditional grill, a skillet, or a George Forman type of grill); incorporate at least one type of veggie with each meal, knowing that fresh and frozen are equally nutrient dense. You can’t go wrong with grilled vegetables—just add a little teriyaki sauce or Cajun seasoning, and grill till crispy.
Involve your kids in the decision-making process as much as possible—whether the decision is what to buy at the grocery store, or which restaurant to go to. They’ll feel like their opinion counts, and will be more likely to try new things if they have a role in the selection process.
The best of luck to you!