Four Secrets To Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution

Happy New Year from Golden Gate Urgent Care!   We hope 2018 is off to a great start for you.  

Research shows that almost 40% of adults make a New Year’s resolution.  The most common resolution is to become healthier -- by eating better, exercising more, or both!   But 80% of people give up on their resolution before February, and only 8% make it the entire year.

We want to help you become the healthiest, happiest version of you!  So here are some secrets to succeeding at your health goals in 2018.

1) Make one change at a time.

              At the beginning of a new year, it can be tempting to create a list of all the positive things you’d like to accomplish in the year to come.  And while travelling the world, saving for retirement, reorganizing the closets, sewing a quilt, building a cabinet from scratch, meditating every morning, saving for retirement, drinking less alcohol, reading more novels, eating locally-sourced foods, running a 10k, redecorating the kids’ rooms, hosting more dinner parties and planting a garden from seedlings are all great goals, it’s difficult -- okay, impossible -- to change everything about your life, all at the same time.

              When it comes to all the healthy improvements you’d like to make in 2018, start by prioritizing.  Pick one goal that’s small, measurable and meaningful, and focus your efforts on that.  Once you’ve accomplished that goal, you can move onto the next goal on your list.

              By focusing your intentions on one change at a time, you’ll be more likely to experience the sustainable, positive transformation you’re looking for.

2) Start small.

           Ok, yes, it would be amazing if you went from being a couch potato to running ultra-marathons in 3 months.  But you’re more likely to succeed at a goal by taking small steps than by attempting bounding leaps.  

             When researchers evaluated patients who wanted to meet specific exercise goals, they found that participants who set and met small goals ended up being more successful in the long run than participants who aimed to meet their goal all at once.

             Some of the small goals were as simple as putting on workout clothes, or showing up at the gym (without even actually exercising!), or standing on the treadmill for a minute or two.  But those participants who worked toward their target one small step at a time ended up being more likely to attain their fitness goals than their counterparts who had an all-or-nothing approach.

             So, for example, if you’re more sedentary than you’d like to be, and you’re looking to become more fit this year, start by spending two minutes on the treadmill every day this week.  Next week, make it five.  The week after that, make it seven.   By adding a few minutes each week, you’ll be more likely to reach your fitness target than if you try to reach your goal immediately.  

            If you’re trying to lose weight, instead of resolving to lose 40 pounds as fast as possible, set a goal of losing ½ pound each week.  Every seven days you’ll be able to celebrate a small success, which will give you the boost you need to take steps to lose that next ½ pound.

              By setting -- and reaching -- small goals, you’ll build your confidence and reinforce your successes as you work your way toward a healthier version of you.

3)  Make your goal measurable.

           Lots of people wish for a healthier lifestyle, but there’s a difference between a wish and a goal.  A wish is a positive sentiment that may happen to you; a goal is positive progress that will happen by you.

          One distinguishing characteristic between wishes and goals is that goals are measurable.  If you can’t measure a goal, you have no way of telling if you’re making progress or not.  It’s difficult to take specific steps in the right direction when you’re not quite sure where you’re going.

          So instead of saying, “I wish I ate healthier,” try, “I’m going to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.”

          Instead of saying, “I wish I was in better shape,” try, “I’m going to go to the gym four days a week.”  

          By setting -- and meeting -- measurable goals, you’ll be more likely to achieve your healthy resolutions.        

4) Don’t give up.

          Okay.  So you’ve prioritized one goal for 2018 and identified small, measurable steps that will get you there.  And now, it’s time to go for it!  Now you begin to implement the changes you’ve identified so you’ll obtain that healthy habit that’s going to improve your life in the year to come.

          Great!

          But the reality is, no matter how focused and sincere your intentions are, there will probably come a time when you slip up.  You eat a piece of chocolate when you swore you were giving up sugar, you only go to the gym three days this week instead of four, you order a second glass of wine with dinner instead of switching to water, you bum a cigarette from a friend when you’d vowed to quit smoking, or you watch a second episode of your favorite show when you already met your limit of screen time for the day.

          In those moments, it’s easy to feel defeated, and to give up on your goal.  But one of the keys to successfully becoming healthier in 2018 is to refuse to give up!   Instead of focusing on the failure, evaluate the experience.  Figure out what happened and why.  Identify what you can do differently next time.  And then keep going!  

          When you persevere in spite of setbacks, you’ll soon find yourself steadily moving toward the healthy and happy version of you you’ve always wanted to be.

***

We’re here 7 days a week to care for you!  If there’s anything we can do to help you become -- and stay! -- healthy in 2018, please make an appointment online or walk in to any of our 6 locations.  

On behalf of our GGUC team, we wish you a very happy and healthy new year.

Author
Sarah Thebarge MMSc, PA-C Sarah Thebarge earned her physician assistant degree at Yale School of Medicine, and then studied journalism at Columbia School of Journalism. She has been a physician assistant and a freelance journalist since 2004. In addition to caring for patients at Golden Gate Urgent Care, Sarah frequently volunteers her medical skills in the developing world. Her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, USA Today and National Geographic, and her blog was featured on MSNBC.com. She is the author of the memoir The Invisible Girls and the upcoming book WELL: Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa. She currently lives in the Mission District of San Francisco.

You Might Also Enjoy...

The Four Best Ways To Stay Healthy During The Holidays

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, it’s important to take steps to stay healthy so you can enjoy the festivities with your family and friends. Here are four of the most important things you can do to stay healthy this year.

Eight Things Everyone Needs To Know About HIV/AIDS

In honor of World AIDS Day, which falls December 1st every year, we wanted to take time out on the blog this week to talk about the signs, symptoms, prevention, detection, & treatment of HIV/AIDS, which is by far the deadliest sexually-transmitted disease.

Five Ways To Protect Your Lungs During A Wildfire

In Northern California, the smoke from the Camp Fire and other fires has traveled quickly, blanketing the Bay Area with air that’s as polluted as the air in Beijing. Here are five ways to protect your lungs when the Bay Area is affected by wildfire smoke.

Three Ways To Lower The Risk of Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, so we’re taking time out on the blog to share three ways to lower the risk of contracting this serious, potentially life-threatening disease that affects 30 million Americans.