How to make your New Year’s resolutions last January

By Bernadette Starzee

Most New Year’s resolutions center around health, with people promising to eat healthier foods, lose weight, increase activity, or quit smoking after the Times Square Ball goes down. But by the second week of February, 80% of New Year’s resolutions were dropped. We asked experts in fitness, nutrition and mental health for advice on how to stick to the resolutions.

Set small, realistic goals and celebrate small wins

Rather than saying you want to lose 50 pounds or run a marathon, break your goals down into specific, short-term steps, said Marianne Barfield, a Long Island-based national trainer for WW (formerly Weight Watchers), who guides clients to being more aware of their food choices and allows them to choose healthier options.

“When your goal includes smaller steps with a shorter timeframe to the reward, you’re more likely to stick with it,” she said. “You can put all of these steps together to create habits, and the powerful thing about habits is that once they are established, they are likely to continue even after motivation, interest and the rewards have been reduced. “

Northport resident and former New York Daily News Golden Gloves Champion Alexander Garcia is a personal trainer who founded AGT, which uses boxing-inspired training techniques to help people become the strongest version of themselves. Garcia also advises clients to take small steps and stick to it.

“Start by making the decision to work out for 20 or 30 minutes a day, or every other day,” he said. “Or if you want to cut out the sugar, commit to reducing portions or changing your sugar source for a healthier, lower calorie option.”

And don’t forget to celebrate the small victories.

“If you didn’t feel like going to the gym, but you did, that’s a win,” Garcia said. “If you wanted to have a cookie, but you didn’t, that’s a win. Focus on the small wins and they start to add up. It’s not just about the destination: enjoy the journey.

Make a commitment and believe you can do it

Life shouldn’t be about restrictions or deprivation, according to Barfield, who advised, “Think about what can be added to your life by creating healthier habits. ”

Once you’ve established your goals, “the biggest advice I can give is to make the decision to do it at all costs, even if it means you have to sacrifice the habits you currently have,” Garcia said. “It’s 100% possible; the biggest problem I see is the lack of commitment and the inability to believe that it can actually happen. “

That’s where coaches like Garcia come in – to help people get in and stay in the right frame of mind to take responsibility.

“I tell my clients that sitting on the couch and eating fast food might be things you feel like doing, but it’s not good for you,” he said. “Don’t stay in your comfort zone; hunt what is not in your comfort zone, but in a safe and healthy way. When you leave your comfort zone, that’s when growth occurs.

It is important not to think of it as a diet, but as a lifestyle change; there is no beginning or end.

“You have to make a decision every day to be better than you were yesterday, and that you are going to give up your old ways to be your best,” he said. “Look at what you eat and think, ‘Does this help me get closer to where I want to go? “”

Prepare to succeed

If you’re starting on New Years Day, prepare ahead for a good start, like shopping for healthy foods, having healthy foods prepared and readily available, and taking items like chips and cookies out of your custody- to eat. People who want to quit smoking can prepare a few weeks in advance by adapting certain habits.

“For example, if you always smoke in the car or when drinking coffee, try not to smoke in the car or with coffee for two weeks to break these associations,” said Patricia Folan, RN, program director. clinic at Northwell. Great Neck Tobacco Control Health Center.

“It will make it easier the day you quit because you don’t have those triggers.” Also, change your brand of cigarettes during the two weeks to something you don’t like as much, so that the pairing isn’t as pleasant (don’t switch to menthol, however, which can be harder to quit). The Center for Tobacco Control provides drugs, including nicotine patches, gums, and lozenges, that control withdrawal symptoms while people are quitting.

Be patient and kind to yourself

It’s important to stay engaged and take responsibility, but you also need to be gentle with yourself when you’re wrong, said Lisa Langer, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and meditation and mindfulness consultant at the Katz Institute for Women’s Health / Center for Wellness and Integrative Medicine in Roslyn and author of the book Deeper into mindfulness.

“It takes three weeks to change a habit and two to three months for it to become automatic,” Langer said. “Stay aware of your goals, but be compassionate and patient with yourself when you fall. It’s so easy to get angry when it’s hard to change a habit, but instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, pick yourself up tomorrow without being so self-critical.

Acquire help

Support from professionals and peers can help keep you on track. Organizations like WW and the Center for Tobacco Control offer evidence-based programs that include support groups to help people change bad habits and stay on course over time. Additionally, Langer said, apps like LiveStrong’s MyPlate Calorie Counter, MyFitnessPal and WW, which allow people to log meals and exercise, “help you stay aware of your goals and can help you. to stay on track “.

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