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Happy 2013! As we begin this new year, many people will resolve to change their diet or exercise habits. But those resolute promises can go out the door as quickly as 2012 did at the stroke of midnight. However, doctors and other experts have some tips on how you can stick to your new plans for longer than just a few days or weeks.

First, contrary to popular belief, those who relied on their willpower alone are a lot less likely to stick with their goals in the long term. Instead, people who took control of the things that influenced their behavior were more likely to stick to changes. In a study of 5,000 people conducted by the website, the following tips were found to be most useful for people attempting to make long term changes.

  1. Get three people who support your goals. Those people who find a support system to stick by their side are 40% more likely to succeed than those who try to go by their own willpower.
  2. Change your environment. Keeping cookies on the counter isn't going to help you stop eating cookies. You've got to remove the cookies from the environment altogether.
  3. Learn a new way to deal with impulses. Instead of acting on an impulse, try something else instead. For example, keep an inspirational photo with you so that you can look at it instead of reaching for junk food when the urge strikes.
  4. Give yourself small rewards. Allow yourself time to relax in your favorite chair and watch TV after finishing a workout or when you've stuck with your new eating plan for the day.
  5. Take it one day at a time. Don't project far out into the future or stay focused on the past "failures" of yesterday. Stay in today!
  6. Finally, make sure to add exercise to your healthy eating routine. Exercise can improve your mood and boost your feelings of self control.

Starting one positive habit can have a snowball effect. As your self-esteem improves, you may find that it is easier to tackle those previously insurmountable goals. Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

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