Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail
Here’s a statistic you’re probably already familiar with: About 92 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail.
“We all know how it goes: Set an underdefined and overly ambitious goal for the new year, give up two weeks in and then pretend the whole thing never happened by the end of January,” says Tim Herrera, in the The New York Times.
Let’s say your top resolution is to eat healthier. You firmly make this resolution one mid-December night after a particularly lavish dinner party that involved too much eggnog and pumpkin pie. Yet you determine, right then and there, that come January 1st, you’ll cut out sugar and eat more vegetables, end of story.
Everything goes splendidly for about four days until your boss yells at you for missing a deadline and you have a disagreement with your significant over a text message. On your way home that evening, you pass by your favorite bakery. Two blueberry scones later, you resolve tomorrow you’ll get right back on track.
Gyms, diet gurus, and self-help seminars count on such overly ambitious resolutions that get off to a running start but quickly bottom out.
Here’s a better strategy this year: Create solid, sustainable strategies with small, realistic action steps to make those goals happen.
“Any resolution to change needs to include small goals that are definable and accompanied by a solid plan on how you’ll get to that goal,” says Dr. Linda Nebeling, an expert in behavioral change and nutrition, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Seven Strategies to Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution of Good Health
- Consider the challenges and obstacles you might face. Eating more nutrient-dense foods might seem like smooth sailing until the day your babysitter cancels, the washing machine overflows, and you get a harsh email from your boss. Suddenly, you’re tempted to nose-dive into a deep dish pepperoni pizza. Instead, determine how you might respond to those situations. Perhaps you find non-food alternatives or take five minutes to breathe deeply, or do yoga.
- Track your changes. One study found those who kept a food journal lost twice the weight compared with those who didn’t track their progress. Tracking your changes – whether that involves a tape measure, the scale, pen to paper, or a fitness app – can give you momentum to stay the course when you’re tempted to give up.
- Don’t let the calendar dictate your progress. That January 1st start date carries all sorts of limitations. “Beginning any set of resolutions on New Year’s Day is a prescription for failure,” says Jonny Bowden, Ph.D. “Why? Because it’s arbitrary and artificial and few people really own it.” He says picking your own resolution start date will empower you rather than make you a slave to the calendar.
- Plan ahead. You know the saying: Fail to plan, plan to fail. Even when life throws you off course – a long day at work or a stressful situation with your child – preparation becomes key to staying on track. Planning ahead might mean prepping ingredients for dinner, laying out your gym clothes the night before, organizing your supplements into compartments, and lining up your next chiropractic appointments ahead of time.
- Consider that change doesn’t happen overnight. The whole 21 days to change mentality is an urban legend. One study that examined new habits of 96 people found that the average time it takes for a new habit to stick is 66 days. (It could take up to 254 days, they found.) “The takeaway message here is that if you want to develop a new behavior, it will take at least two months, and you shouldn’t despair if three weeks doesn’t do the trick – for most people that’s simply not enough,” says Signe Dean, journalist, and editor, at ScienceAlert.
- Find support along the way. People who surround themselves with positive social support better maintain weight loss. Surround yourself with like-minded people who have similar goals. Create a Meetup group for our Core or Advanced Plan, find an online community, or get your best friend or significant other involved for support. However you do, become engaged and make it fun!
- Keep going back to your “why.” “If you feel that your motivation is waning, think back and remind yourself why the change was important to you in the first place,” says Dr. Deborah Tate, obesity and behavioral researcher, at the University of North Carolina. Perhaps, you wanted to have more stamina, feel better, or be able to play with your grandchildren says, Tate. Reminding yourself of these personal reasons can encourage you to get back on track.
Once you have these seven principles in place, you can make nearly any resolution sustainable over the long haul including maintaining our 5 Essentials™.
Making the 5 Essentials™ Part of Your Resolution
Many New Year’s Resolutions include eating better, exercising, and generally cultivating better health. Our 5 Essentials™ provides a solid foundation to encompass all your health and fitness goals to become your healthiest self.
This simple, effective approach to healthcare focuses on chiropractic care, simple and clean nutrition, a clear mindset, oxygen and exercise, and minimizing toxin exposure. Each of the essentials can become a focus individually or in combination, and each will bring you closer to whole-body health.
Once you’ve committed to the program, find small, sustainable ways to incorporate these principles into your life ensure lasting, sustainable change.
Within each of the five principles discussed below, you’ll find three action steps to make them lasting and effective.
The chiropractic philosophy of health is centered on the spine. After all, your spine runs through the center of your body, connecting all systems, every organ, and ultimately each cell to one another. An optimal nerve expression allows each component of your body to work in concert with the others.
The core principle of traditional chiropractic care is to keep the spine and nervous system free of structural interferences that everyday stressors create.
- Prioritize spinal alignment. This becomes an important first step toward unlocking your body’s natural potential for health and healing.
- Determine your specific goals. Maybe they involve more energy, weight loss, or reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes (or all of the above). Talk with your chiropractor about a customized plan that helps you meet those goals.
- Develop small, sustainable action steps with your chiropractor. Visiting your chiropractor consistently to discuss progress and maintain your focus can provide a great foundation to make your goals reality.
Rather than advocating a one-size-fits-all nutritional guide, the MaxLiving philosophy acknowledges that we are all different. From that perspective, we’ve developed two practical plans that anyone can follow.
The Core Plan is designed to be flexible in everyday life. The Advanced Plan becomes less flexible, in that a few of your food options are removed from the list. You’ll find the complete plan in Align Your Health or talk with your MaxLiving Chiropractor about each plan and to determine which one would best fit your unique lifestyle and goals. Both involve nutrient-rich, satisfying foods that will carry you to your goal.
- Make breakfast a smoothie. Simplify your morning routine. A protein-rich smoothie (made with Grass-Fed Whey Protein, PurePath Protein, or Perfect Plant Protein) becomes an ideal way to start your day healthy and keeps you focused and full all morning. Find some delicious recipes for smoothies and other easy, healthy breakfast ideas on the MaxLiving Healthy Recipes page.
- Preparation becomes the key to success. Worth repeating, because for many people, preparation becomes the needle mover for success. Cut vegetables, portion nuts, and seeds into bags, make a grocery list and do everything possible to simplify sticking with the plan you choose.
- Cover the nutrient gaps you might not be getting from food. Even the healthiest diet might not contain optimal nutrients you need to thrive. At the very least, cover those bases with a multivitamin (for men, women, and children) along with an omega-3 fatty acid formula.
A mindset shift can become a goal for change in itself. Time management, sleep prioritization, and stress reduction support a healthy brain and body function. With mental, emotional, and physical health in focus, you can better pursue the essential actions that lead to holistic health.
- Cultivate solid sleep hygiene. Research shows less than half of us get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep nightly. Set yourself up for great sleep by turning off electronics, taking a hot bath, and using a sleep formula if you have difficulty falling or staying asleep.
- Find stress management that works for you. Whether that involves meditation, yoga, deep breathing, mindfulness, or just laughing with your best friend on movie night, schedule de-stressors and utilize them regularly.
- Cultivate a strong, positive mindset. “People who have a growth mindset and who see themselves as agents in their own lives are more open to new experiences, more willing to take risks, more persistent, and more resilient in rebounding from failure,” says Suan David, PhD, in Emotional Agility. A few ways to do that including reading books and attending seminars about developing resiliency while surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people.
Oxygen & Exercise
An effective exercise routine should fit into the busiest schedule, bring more oxygen into the body, to feed both body and mind, and build lean muscle and improve performance. You don’t need an expensive gym membership to get those and other benefits:
- Move more, period. Schedule more steps in your day. (Many phones have a fitness app that counts your steps.) You needn’t find a 30-minute time slot to walk when you park further away from the grocery store door or take the stairs rather than elevator or escalator. Those 10,000 steps will count up fast!
- Get back to basics. You can do bodyweight exercises including planks, lunges, and pushups almost anywhere with no equipment. Fit them in throughout your day: During TV commercials makes a great time.
- Schedule in an intense workout… in just 12 minutes. Research shows high-intensity interval training (HIIT) makes a powerfully effective, efficient type of exercise for weight loss and much more. Better yet, this fitness can be fast with our MaxT3 program, which gives you a full-body workout in (you guessed it) 12 minutes in the privacy of your own home.
While the body’s detoxification system is elegant and thorough when it functions optimally, we place significant stressors on this system at every turn.
Research associates chemicals in many household cleaning and personal products (including phthalates, phenols, and flame retardants) with adverse health effects, such as reproductive and endocrine toxicity.
- Whenever possible, go organic. Conventionally produced fruits and vegetables can carry high amounts of pesticides and other toxins. Research shows that choosing organic foods, which are oftentimes higher in nutrients, can help reduce your risk of allergic disease and overweight/obesity. If organic isn’t completely in your budget, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a list of the least- and most-pesticide ridden produce.
- Use the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) databases. You can search specific household products to determine which ones carry the most toxins. Their Skin Deep® Cosmetic Database lets you search almost 70,000 products.
- Go DIY. You can save money, time, and the environment making many household products yourself. This guide can show you how. Likewise, coconut oil and baking soda provide healthier alternatives for many beauty products including moisturizers and deodorant.
Resolutions can be easy to make, but hard to implement and sustain. Aim high, but then break those goals into small, manageable, sustainable strategies. With these principles in place, you have all the tools to make 2019 your healthiest, happiest year. Great health is the best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones!