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How to Achieve Your New Year’s Goals

The most common New Year’s resolutions⁠—about 55%⁠—deal with health. In 2019, Michiganders wanted to lose weight, eat better, and exercise more. Unfortunately, 80% failed within the first six weeks. How does that happen?

Experts suggest the problem lies in the approach. A person may have a large-scale objective with an unrealistic expectation. For example: abruptly cutting sugar from one’s diet instead of slowly limiting one’s intake over time.

“Not one workout is going to make you fit, and not one bad meal is going to make you unhealthy,” said Grace Derocha, registered dietitian, certified health coach, diabetes care and education specialist. “It’s about a lifestyle change, making better decisions most of the time, and finding … what you need to improve upon.”

Instead of focusing on restriction, focus on consistency. That’s what will keep you on the right path. “If you’re consistent, you will save money,” declared Derocha. “If you eat healthier you will be healthier … If you go to sleep at a good time every night, you will feel more rested and probably less stressed.”

On the latest episode of A Healthier Michigan Podcast, hosted by Chuck Gaidica, he and Derocha provide tips on how to stick to your New Year’s goals.

Before setting any goal, you must know your why. “Back in the day, my why was probably more aesthetic,” explained Derocha. “Now that I’m older, I think about wanting to be there for my kids, wanting to make sure I’m there to see them graduate from college, get married, and play with my grandkids. So, those are extremely different.”

Once you’ve identified your why, plan the how. Using the SMARTE method, you can implement a significant lifestyle change without feeling overwhelmed. The first step is to be specific. Have a clear understanding of the goal. Secondly, make it measurable. Track your progress from beginning, middle to end. “When you go to the doctor and get your blood drawn, you know where your baseline is,” said Derocha. “You know how to measure that.”

The next step is to ensure the goal is attainable, approachable, and adjustable. That leaves room for error, which means you don’t have to be perfect every day. Also, be realistic and timely. It’s unlikely a person can lose 50 pounds in three months. But they could lose 50 pounds in one year.

Finally, enjoy whatever it is that you’re doing. This should be an exciting experience. If you want to exercise more, try dancing as opposed to running. Start eating better by teaching yourself how to cook. Make it fun.

Every journey, individual or not, requires external support. Make sure you’re surrounded by positive people who are a source of encouragement. “If someone’s trying to quit smoking but all their friends or their family smoke … quitting is going to be really hard to do,” declared Derocha. A support system can push you to want better and do better. It also incorporates a form of accountability that you can’t create on your own.

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Photo credit: Rowan Jordan

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