If you’re one of the millions of Americans who made a New Year’s resolution, you may already find that temptation has made keeping your pledge exceedingly difficult. Approximately 40 percent of all Americans make a New Year’s resolution, according to a study conducted by the University of Scranton, but only eight percent actually succeed in keeping their pledge.
Not surprisingly, pledging to loss weight once the New Year begins ranks as both the most common and most broken resolution made every year.
Trying to lose weight can often feel like riding a roller coaster. Up one moment only to plunge back down the next, day after day, can make even the most eager dieter a little frustrated and worn out. Fortunately, you can make dieting a little easier in 2014 by committing to a few small, easy-to-maintain healthy habits. By making just a few changes to your daily routine, you can keep progressing towards your goal, while allowing your small habits transform into larger one that can permanently change your dietary habits.
Small Changes, Big Difference
One reason why making small changes to your daily habits can make such a big difference when trying to lose weight is because it allows you to make progress quickly. Each time you follow through on a small habit, your confidence continues to grow, and you feel more in control of the weight loss process.
As an added bonus, when you set a specific small habit, you can help reduce the anxiety you feel about whether you’re doing enough to lose weight or doing it the “right way.” For example, if your small habit change is to snack on fresh veggies instead of chips or a candy bar during the late afternoon, every time you say no to an unhealthy treat, you can consider your diet a success.
The most important thing to keep in mind when selecting which daily habit to change is to pick something you can easily control so you don’t get discouraged So while planning to exercise for an hour a day is a wonderful way to lose weight, you may discover that finding the time or motivation to workout for that long daily becomes more problematic than you initially thought. Now instead of focusing on how well your diet is going, you become more troubled by not meeting your daily goal.
Instead of setting overly ambitious goals, start by making smaller, more manageable changes so you can set yourself up for success. Over time, you can increase that small habit change to the next level for even better results. For instance, start by pledging to workout for 15 minutes a day by taking a walk around the block once in the morning and in the evening. Once you get into a comfortable habit of exercising daily, increase the time your workout to 30 minutes a day. Once 30 minutes becomes habit, expand the time you spend working out to 45 minutes or an hour.
That’s the great thing about making small changes to your daily habits, once a habit becomes routine, you can continue adding to it until you’re making a massive difference in how you look and feel.
Make Sure to Motivate
The reason 92 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail isn’t due to a lack of good intentions, it’s because change for the sake of change isn’t always enough to motivate someone to complete their goal, no matter how healthy or beneficial.
Changing out of old behaviors takes a lot of work and commitment, which means most people need a good reason to make a new habit worth their effort. While improving your health is a great reason to try and lose weight, it might not be enough for everyone. If you need a little more motivation, try linking your goals to something more immediately noticeable and concrete.
For example, if you want to start drinking more water and less soda during the day, one way to help improve your motivation to complete that goal is to focus on the money you’ll save by not purchasing a soft drink and instead spend that money on something else gratifying, such as a special magazine or lottery ticket.
Create a trigger to remind you of what to do when confronted with temptation to break your new daily habit. You ideally need a trigger that’s noticeable, preferably one that goes off at the time you’re set to perform the habit. To trigger yourself to say no to soda and yes to a healthy glass of water, your trigger could include:
- Setting a time on your work calendar to “meet” with a glass of water.
- Link your new habit with something you do daily. For example, whenever you get up to use the restroom, make sure to drink a glass of water on the way back to your desk.
- Keeping a glass for water on your desk and making sure to refill it once an hour, on the hour.
Whatever your trigger, make sure it’s easy to remember and implement, as anything too complex will only make it hard for you to achieve your goal. Also keep in mind what losing weight can mean for you long-term. Recent studies have found that overweight and obese individuals have a higher risk of developing a variety of chronic health issues, including heart disease, stroke, gum disease and tooth loss, and cancer.
The weight you lose today can make a big difference to your long-term health in the future and the time you can spend with loved ones, children, grand kids, and friends. Now that’s pretty good motivation.