Dr. Mark Anderson: Resolutions You Can Keep
Madison, Wisconsin - UW Health Family Medicine physician Mark Anderson writes a monthly column for The Herald-Independent, which covers Monona and Cottage Grove. Columns are re-published here with permission.
My least favorite time to go to the gym is the first week of January, and not just because of the cold and the snow and constant darkness.
I don't like going because the gym is always so busy. It is full of the people who made a New Year's resolution to get in shape and start exercising more.
People might even be at the gym because I (or another doctor) challenged them to drop a couple of pounds. But these resolutions often don’t last. Within a couple of weeks, the crowd starts to thin back to the regulars.
Can I let you in on a secret? There are some easy ways to make your New Year's resolutions last.
First, be specific. Don't tell yourself "I want to lose weight." Instead, challenge yourself to "Lose two pounds each month this year."
Second, make only one reachable goal at a time. If you say that this year you will "lose 20 pounds, quit smoking, read War and Peace and cure cancer," it is likely that you will achieve none of your goals. Prioritize your goals and begin a new one only once the previous one is completed.
Third, write it down. If you tell yourself you are going to lose two pounds each month, will you remember in six months? Put your goal on your bathroom mirror, dashboard or somewhere that you’ll see it frequently to remind and encourage you.
Fourth, tell someone else who will keep you accountable. It is easy to let a goal sputter out and die if nobody knows you made it. But if someone close to you will ask you how the weight loss is going, you are more likely to try to keep to the goal. Even better, see if your friend wants to participate in the goal with you – you might gain a workout buddy.
Fifth, make time for your goal. Weight loss doesn't happen by itself. Plan to get to the gym several times a week. Plan to cook more at home instead of eating fast food. These things take time, planning and rearranging your schedule.
If you need help in making your goal or in reaching it, talk to someone. Talk to me. Talk to your doctor. Talk to your family, friends, and people who have been through the challenges before. By incorporating these ideas, you have a much better chance of crossing your resolution off your yearly list for good!
This column provides general health information and is not specific advice intended for any particular individual(s). It is not a professional medical opinion or a diagnosis. Always consult your personal health care provider about your concerns. No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Anderson.
Date Published: 12/15/2012