By WVU Medicine physician Kristen Moore, MD

Run 500 miles. Lose 30 pounds. Read a book per week. Do these sound familiar to you? In the past, I set lofty goals for New Year’s resolutions, too. Unfortunately, by March, I’d find myself way behind on actually achieving my goals, so I just gave up. Let’s resolve now to change that pattern of behavior. With these five tips to help maintain resolutions, we can become healthier and more fabulous in 2017.

  1. Don’t set goals that are unreasonable for you. You want to aim high in order to motivate and challenge yourself, but don’t make it so difficult that it’s not attainable. If weight loss is your goal, start by losing five to 10 percent of your body weight – a very reasonable goal of about 10 to 20 pounds. Making sustainable lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating and regular exercise, are the key to losing weight and maintaining that loss. Avoid crash dieting. When you’ve lost five to 10 percent of your body weight, you can assess further weight loss needs and set another goal if you’d like. If exercise is your goal, start small with a daily 30-minute walk and build up from there.
  2. Find ways to hold yourself accountable. For weight loss/fitness goals, there are many smartphone apps to help you track weight, calorie intake, and exercise to chart your progress. It also helps to use the buddy system. Studies show higher success rates for goals such as weight loss, exercise, and smoking cessation if spouses participate together. Goals are easier to achieve if everyone in the household is on the same page. If that’s not possible, try working with a friend to compare dieting notes and exercise together. Don’t wait until next December to see how you’ve done: measure progress regularly along the way, so that you can make adjustments if something is not working.
  3. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Smoking cessation is a great New Year’s resolution, and a WVU Medicine healthcare provider can offer a lot of resources, such as medication and/or counseling. Your healthcare provider can also help you to achieve your weight loss goals by dietary counseling and/or nutritionist referral. A nutritionist can give you one-on-one instructions and customize a diet plan that works for you.
  4. Reward yourself along the way. We’re all motivated to perform better if there’s a prize involved. It can be something simple, but plan a reward for yourself as you make progress toward meeting your goal. You deserve it!
  5. You may make mistakes along the way, and that’s OK. Pick up where you left off, and try to make adjustments to avoid the same pitfalls next time. These are year-long goals, and a mistake is no reason to give up and throw away all your hard work.

Have a happy and healthy New Year!

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