Expecting to lose weight without a plan of action isn't a New Year's resolution, it's a fantasy, says John Norcross, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. It's critical not only to say what you want to do but also to figure out how you'll achieve it. Instead of vowing to shed a large amount of weight and then winging it, decide to lose a pound a week by, say, packing your lunch and going to the gym four days a week. Monitoring new behavior is empowering, says Norcross, so break it down by charting your weekly exercise minutes or daily veggie servings.
Resolution: Run a marathon
Go slow. The distance (26.2 miles) is daunting for anyone, especially a newbie. And if that didn't deter you, a too-eager training plan may have.
New to the racing scene? Consider all of your options. "It doesn't have to be marathon or bust," says Jake Havenar, Ph.D., a running coach in Mountain View, California. First try a 5-K, then build up to a 10-K or half marathon.
"Gradually increasing your distance boosts your chance of success, which builds self-confidence." And people with confidence are more likely to reach their goals, says Norcross.
If you still have the marathon itch, consider this: More than 140 U.S. marathons will take place this fall, and because most training schedules are 16 weeks long, June (not January!) is an ideal time to get started.
Come out strong in the second half.
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