LifeSynch, a Humana subsidiary, offers extensive health behavior resources, including behavioral healthcare, employee assistance program (EAP)/work-life services, behavioral pharmacy services, health coaches and Web-based wellness tools. As part of their commitment to change health behaviors and improve lives, LifeSynch’s health coaches will be contributing a series of articles that demonstrate how easy it can be to make a healthy change.
It’s that time of the year when we start talking about New Year’s resolutions. Some are large, some are small and some are simply unreachable. We are so motivated to make improvements as a new year approaches that we often set the bar too high, which inevitably leads to failure and disappointment.
Each January, according to a recent study, approximately 1 in 3 Americans will make a resolution. While about 75 percent of us stick to the goals we set for at least a week, only 40-45 percent are still on target six months later. Why is it so hard to stay on track?
I believe that the biggest problem is how we set goals in the first place. Why not set smaller goals so that we can celebrate a quick success that will motivate us to take the next step toward a larger goal? For example, let’s say my goal for the first week is to cut back on my sugary drinks. If I currently have two sugary drinks a day, my initial goal will be to cut back to one sugary drink a day. That doesn’t sound too difficult, right? If the first week’s goal was achieved, set a new goal, such as cutting back to two sugary drinks a week.
The point is to set realistic goals. If you know that you aren’t going to be able to cut sugary drinks completely out of your diet, then don’t set an initial goal to do so. You’re setting yourself up for failure.
Here are a few other ideas to get you started:
- Drink more water: Most of us should drink more water and don’t come close to the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses a day. If you don’t drink much water now, then you will probably want to start out with a goal of drinking a much smaller amount and work up to eight glasses.
- Run a 5k: My fiancé has set a goal to run a 5k every month, but I’m not asking you to do that right away. Instead, set a goal to run a 5k within the next three months. Make it realistic to your lifestyle. Check out this couch to 5k program for tips and inspiration.
- Challenge yourself to try something new every month. For example, have you ever had spaghetti squash or quinoa? They are both delicious and healthy.
I want to challenge you to think outside the box and come up with a resolution that you will be successful in keeping. Celebrate once you’ve met that goal. (But don’t reward yourself with cake! Indulge in something you love that is going to make you feel good about your success.) Now get out there and take just one step toward a healthier new you.
Ramona Cash, a site administrator for the personal health coaching program for LifeSynch, a subsidiary of Humana, has a bachelor’s degree in health education and a master’s degree in health science. She is also a certified health educator. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her bike, going to the farmer’s market, and cooking healthy recipes for her food blog, “Keep It Fun and Healthy.”