Every year, December 31 rolls around and I’m forced to acknowledge that I’ve spent the entire month eating tons of cookies. After I acknowledge that my eating habits have been awry, the realization comes that I need to eat salad, cut out the high-calorie cocktails and work out every day for the next year. I try to cut back and work out, but a month later, the old habits return as quickly as they left.
I spoke with Dr. Martin Binks, clinical director & CEO of Binks Behavioral Health, to learn the top 5 reasons why resolutions fail, and to find the solution to making this year more successful.
- Unrealistic goals. Losing a significant percentage of your body mass, speaking fluent Cantonese, and learning how to play a violin concerto in one year isn’t going to happen. A realistic and healthy goal for weight loss is about 1-2 pounds per week, and the more effort you put in to learning a new skill over time, the better you will get.
- Expect something magical. Do you think once the clock strikes midnight you will magically stop smoking? “Most people try to quit smoking and fail six or seven times before they quit,” says Binks. “Looking at your life magically on January 1st doesn’t make it all go away. Find things that you’ll be able to do in the context of your life.”
- Surrounded by temptation. Having a house full of chocolate isn’t going to help you stay on track if you plan on losing weight. Give away most of your holiday sweets, but save the good stuff. Indulging in sweets every so often will keep your healthful eating on track.
- Many resolutions. Focusing on one goal will guarantee greater success. The simpler and more focused your goal, the easier it will be to attain.
- Going in blind. Would you get in your car and drive if you didn’t know where you were going? If you’re trying to lose weight, think about exercise and diet. Don’t go to extremes by eating lettuce and running 20 miles a week. Set a plan that fits in with your schedule and goals that is realistic and achievable, such as going for a walk three times a week. Schedule in a “buffer” week after New Year’s to adjust to eating better and getting on track.