The holidays are traditionally a time of celebration, togetherness, reflection, and often excess. Many of us overdo it a little during the holidays — a just reward after a long year. This may be the reason that so many Americans make New Year’s resolutions to take on challenges or make long-overdue life changes. Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions are to quit smoking, save more money, find a new job, and, of course, lose weight.
The Challenge of New Year’s Resolutions
One of the reasons that people wait until the new year to begin a resolution is that they want to attempt something difficult and avoid the distraction of the holidays. It also gives them time to mentally prepare for the challenges to come. For instance, losing weight is a common New Year’s resolution. The goal might be something like, “I want to lose 25 pounds before the spring.” For some obese individuals, this may seem like an insurmountable challenge. For others, it just means cutting back on snacks and increasing exercise for a few months. However, both types of individuals may not want to try to tackle a weight loss regimen right in the middle of the parties that accompany the end-of-the-year holidays.
If you are attempting a challenging resolution, here are a few keys to success:
- Create Realistic Expectations – If you need to lose 100 pounds, you are going to need time to achieve it. If not, you’ll get frustrated and may feel like giving up.
- Set Metrics – Creating goals like “cutting back on drinking” or “spending less money” may seem like great ideas, but you probably won’t even know if you’re successful unless you set parameters. Losing an average of one pound per week is much easier to track than losing 12 pounds in three months.
- Create a Strategy – What does success mean to you? Certain goals have definite terms. For example, success for a person quitting smoking usually means that they want to get to a point where they never smoke again. Many are not so clear. People often want to lose weight but aren’t happy with the results when they achieve their goal. A proper plan should include a schedule, milestones, and contingency measures in case the plan is not producing the desired results.
- Avoid Procrastination – The reason you’ve set a New Year’s start date is to avoid putting it off. Stick to your proposed schedule.
- Avoid Habits that Lead to Failure – If you have a habit that makes it difficult to achieve your goal, you may have to avoid those until you make some gains. For instance, if your goal is to lose weight, but you’re in the habit of having a cocktail in the evening, you may have to give that up, even if drinking less is not your particular goal. In addition to the extra calories, drinking often triggers the appetite.
Setting Realistic and Specific Goals
When you make a New Year’s resolution, your enthusiasm for success may never be higher. You can look into the future and see yourself at your desired weight or with an increased savings account or speaking a new language, but you’re going to have to take steps to achieve these goals.
One of the best ways to maintain your enthusiasm and, thereby, ensure success for the project is to set a realistic, specific goal. Then, once you have that goal, plan a roadmap for success. In order to identify a specific goal, try these steps:
- Determine the Metric – Weight loss can be measured in pounds or fat percentage. Reducing debt and increasing savings can be measured in dollars or in percentage changes. Whatever your goal is — even if your goal is to completely eliminate a habit — give it a metric.
- Set the Number – Once you’ve determined the metric — pounds, BMI, dollars, drinks, cigarettes, calories, etc. — determine your number. For example, Emerald Laser is the only laser lipolysis treatment that is recommended for patients with a BMI between 30 and 40, but some individuals seeking laser fat reduction are over 40. A New Year’s resolution could be to “reduce my BMI to 39 so I can start laser lipolysis.”
If the goal is to quit drinking or smoking, the number is zero, but that does not necessarily mean that you have to go immediately to zero. Some people benefit from gradual reductions.
- Set Intermediate Deadlines – If you are trying to achieve a long-term goal, break the time period into shorter lengths. For example, if your goal is to lose 80 pounds in ten months, you will need to average an eight-pound weight loss every month. You may check your weight more frequently, but setting a goal of losing eight pounds in a month seems much less daunting.
- Assess and Evaluate – Using the same example of losing eight pounds per month, what happens if you lose six pounds in the first month? It’s progress, and you definitely can feel good about losing six pounds, but if you want to stay on track with your overarching goal, you may have to tweak what you’re doing to lose weight.
Establishing a Support System
Something that many people who have successfully achieved difficult goals begin by establishing a support system. This technique is frequently used in higher academia, where students have access to professors, counselors, tutors, and other students who share a common goal. Consider including both individuals who are pursuing the same goal as you and others who have been successful with a similar goal. If your New Year’s resolution is to run a marathon, for example, it might be helpful not only to train with other people who are at your level but also people who have completed marathons.
Incorporating Daily Habits and Routines
Habits can be just as difficult to establish as they are to break. Getting up an hour earlier to walk or run five days per week can be incredibly hard at first. It’s often helpful to allow yourself a reward. On the other hand, if your resolution is to break a detrimental habit, it’s often helpful to replace it with something else.
Celebrating Small Wins Along the Way
Big goals often have rigorous journeys, so it’s important to celebrate along the way. Even if your ultimate goal is to lose 50 pounds, losing 10 pounds is certainly notable. Find a way to celebrate that’s not counter to your resolution. This could be calling a close friend or loved one to tell them how excited you are about your progress, making a social media post, or buying yourself some item you’ve had your eye on.
Staying Flexible and Adapting
The Super Bowl is a common New Year’s resolution pitfall. Many people who start new diets, quit drinking or quit smoking do great in January. Then, they attend a Super Bowl party and break their resolution in some way or another. It’s important to plan for occasional slips and even abject failures. New Year’s Day is symbolic, but you can restart your resolution immediately after a misstep. If you have a long-term goal, you may even expect one or two of these to occur while you’re finding your stride. Try not to abandon the cause.
Prioritizing Mental Well-being
It’s essential that you monitor and tend to your mental well-being as you pursue your objective. You may have decided to make your goal a New Year’s resolution because it’s difficult and requires adjustment. You can probably expect changes in mood, frustration, and discouragement. It’s often helpful to ask someone from your day-to-day life to let you know if they observe unhealthy signs. Listen to them and adjust your plan.
Embracing the Journey and Looking Ahead
According to a Forbes Health Survey, 39% of respondents cited improved fitness as their New Year’s resolution goal, 37% specified weight loss, and 33% improved diet. For many people, these goals are one and the same.
Many Emerald Laser patients find that their goals have not produced the aesthetic look that they are seeking. Emerald Laser is a safe, non-invasive procedure that has been shown to reduce fat in targeted areas in several double-blind studies. If you’ve worked hard to lose weight, but are interested in eliminating pockets of fat in specific areas, schedule an appointment at an Emerald Laser provider near you.