Take Control in the New Year

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension
en Español / em Português

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Happy New Year Everyone! Every year individuals make New Year’s Resolutions and every year 2 out of 3 people give up by mid-February on their New Year’s Resolutions. To help make your dreams a reality, experts recommend you start with one or two goals at a time to prevent getting overwhelmed by changes. Also, a positive attitude is important to being successful in reaching your goal. If you are looking to start the New Year on the right track to better health: eating more fruits & vegetables, drinking more water, being consistent with physical activity, or losing weight, here are 5 skills to help you accomplish your goal:
Set a goal – We must start with short-term goals to help reach your long-term goal. Goals need to be SMART…this technique is sure to make you successful in what you set your mind to do:
Specific – Don’t just say “I want to exercise,” or “I want to eat more fruits and vegetables,” or “I want to drink more water.” Be specific with your goal…example, “I want to be able to drink the recommended 8 glasses of water each day (long-term).
Measurable – Goals need to be measurable. How long will you give
yourself to accomplish your goal…example, “I will consistently drink the 8 glasses of water by the end of 2 months.”
Attainable – Goals need to be attainable. We start with small goals and increase as you go along. Monitoring your progress on a weekly or bi- weekly basis is a good way of seeing how you’re doing and/or making adjustments that need to be made. Example, start by drinking 1 glass of water a day for the first week and increase by one more glass each week thereafter.
Realistic – Goals need to be realistic. Don’t push yourself too fast, too hard. If you’ve never exercised then start slow, do a light to moderate workout, 2-3 times per week or if you don’t drink enough water, start drinking one glass a day until you reach the recommended 8 glasses a day.
Time – Set a time frame of when you would like to reach your goal. This could take weeks, months, even years. The important thing is not to give up or get discouraged but keep a positive outlook. Remember, Rome was not built in a day.
Once you have a goal set in place, next:
Plan- Planning is an important skill. Learning to plan will help you take control and reach your health goals. Planning can maximize your time and increase your chance of success with your short-term goals and overall long-term goals.
Take action – Breaking your goal down to smaller, weekly steps can help you to ensure success in reaching your short-term goal and ultimately your long-term goal. What is one easy step that you could take to help meet your goal? Remember SMART. For example, if your short-term goal is to be active for 30 minutes a day, your week 1 step may be to start walking 15 minutes, 3 days the first week and increase the following week your time or your days, a little at a time. Part of planning is considering what are the obstacles and solutions to being successful, as well as identifying who you can contact or count on to support you in your weekly step. Preparing and planning helps prevent set backs.
Track – Tracking what you eat and the physical activity you do are some of the most successful techniques to help you meet your goal of eating smart and moving more. Also, consider tracking your progress, challenges, successes, and your health numbers, this too will contribute to your overall success.
Reflect – Take time to reflect on the prior week’s progress. Were you successful at meeting your steps for the week or did you face challenges? what can you do differently to reduce those challenges? What does your tracking say to you? If you fell short one week, don’t beat yourself up about it; but, keep on trying and moving forward. Most important don’t forget to celebrate your successes.
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” – World Health Organization
This information is provided by the SNAP-Ed Steps to Health – Take Control Program and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.