Plan to succeed – UAB experts offer New Year’s resolution tips

UAB experts say having a plan , setting specific goals and keeping track of progress are great action items to keep in mind when making resolutions for the new year.

anna threadcraftAnna Threadcraft, RDNMany people start the new year with a list of lofty goals for self-improvement, but statistics say most of the 45 percent of Americans who typically make resolutions don’t keep them all year long. In fact, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, only 8 percent of Americans who make resolutions are successful in achieving them, and other studies suggest that 80 percent of people will abandon those resolutions by February.

The No. 1 resolution on most lists? Losing weight. But even though statistics say resolutions do not typically yield results, they can still be worthwhile .

According to UAB Director of Employee Wellness Anna Threadcraft, RDN, there are four ways in which people can manage expectations of being healthy and keep their New Year’s resolutions:

  • Start Small: When it comes to making health goals, start small. Begin incorporating small, sustainable changes into your lifestyle that you can stick with, not just the ones that sound good but you know you’ll never maintain.
  • Plan Ahead: Whether you’re married or single, your first date in 2017 needs to be with your grocery store. It’s much easier to make wise choices if you have healthy options readily available.
  • Be Accountable: A lot of people fall off the wellness wagon within a few short weeks after setting goals, so set yourself up for success. Place a reminder or check-in on your phone, or send a prescheduled email to yourself. Include reminders of why you’re working on the goals, and ask yourself the questions you know you want to confidently answer when the reminder comes through.
  • Rest: We underestimate the simple power of being rested. Before you start making any huge health changes that require great effort, consider your sleeping patterns. There may be room for some simple improvement that goes a long way. Changes might include making a point to get more sleep in general, or working on improving the quality of what you already get. When you are well-rested, you make better decisions, plan better and typically embrace life with a better attitude all the way around.

But many people do not focus just on physical health. UAB clinical psychologist Josh Klapow, Ph.D., says people should focus on mental wellness as well.

“Our thoughts and feelings have a direct impact on our overall well-being,” he said.

Klapow says taking hold of stress can have a lasting impact on mental wellness.

“Daily stresses have a funny way of building up to a point where people can feel overwhelmed,” he said. “Stressful situations can’t always be stopped, but there are ways to manage the feelings of stress.”

Klapow suggests writing down those stressful situations and putting checkmarks next to the ones that can be changed.

“Monitoring stress levels is a good habit to make, and taking short mental breaks can be helpful in breaking up the high-tension moments,” Klapow said. “Carving out a little time for something as simple as a daily walk can also reduce feelings of stress.”

Threadcraft and Klapow agree that having a plan to move forward, setting specific goals and keeping track of progress are great action items to keep in mind when heading toward the new year.

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