Your New Year’s Resolutions: Unrealistic Expectations Sabotage Success

This is the time of year when most of us reflect back on the past year and set goals for ourselves for the upcoming year. Many of these goals involve getting healthier-and that also means losing weight for a vast majority- especially after the mind numbing, overeating holiday season we have just experienced. New Year’s Resolutions have become somewhat of a joke- as research has shown that within 6 weeks, most of us have forgotten and forgone any attempts at sticking to our resolutions. One reason that we dump our resolutions so quickly is that we often make resolutions that are too binding, strict or impossible to keep, all based on unrealistic expectations of ourselves.

So- how do we set realistic goals that allow us to find success and stick-to-it-ness in 2006? I believe that the goals you set for yourself right now should be based on where you have come from last year. For example- if you are a non-exerciser, promising to exercise 6 days a week is too big a leap of faith. Start by resolving to exercise 3 days a week to start. Make that an absolute committment. It is doable for EVERYONE, regardless of busy lives and hectic work schedules. This committment can be kept throughout the year- or can be increased over time once you have stuck with the initial stage. And, if you are already exercising and have consistently exercised 3 days week, make your resolution to now exercise 4-5 days week.

Nutritionally, we tend to make the same mistakes.”I’m giving up sweets for the year” is a common resolution. But, this is overly binding for many of us, and once you give in to your inevitable cravings, you may feel like you have failed completely and thus give up on trying at all. Try this instead:
-If you eat sweets every day- commit to cutting out sweets every OTHER day. Try this step first- see if it is doable. Once you have succeeded here- THEN can you update your promise to yourself as you feel necessary.
-OR- if you usually have 3 cookies a day- first cut down to 2 cookies, then to 1 cookie. Take it step-by-step. OR, substitute a lower calorie sweet for your high calorie treat and begin that way. A fudgesicle at less than 100 calories is a fantastic change over a bowl of Haagen-Daz. And, while it may not taste exactly as good- it might be just enough to keep your resolutions intact!

If you are trying to lose weight- DO NOT EXPECT to lose more than 2 pounds a week It just isn’t possible. Nutritional programs like Jenny Craig or reality shows like The Biggest Loser highlight incredible weight loss which sets us up for false hopes. While it is true that in the first week of a severe diet, many people lose weight dramatically, any weight loss of greater than 3 pounds is due to water loss and muscle tissue wasting- not true fat loss.

Finally, weight loss and good health is ONLY achieved and sustained by a committment to exercise. There is absolutely no getting around this fact!