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Realistic Goals Are Key To Keeping Resolutions

Holiday Feature


DENTON — Once the holiday guests have returned home and the leftovers are gone, thoughts tend to turn to the new year and, quite often, a “new you.”

Many New Year’s resolutions focus on self-improvement — losing weight, developing healthy eating habits, quitting smoking, etc. Too often, however, these goals are set aside shortly after the year begins. Michelle Kampschroeder, health education coordinator at Texas Woman’s University, says most resolutions fail when people don’t set realistic goals.

“A key to keeping your resolutions is to not try to do everything at once,” Kampschroeder said. “It’s better to focus on one or two goals; accomplish them; then set more goals.”

There are other factors to consider when setting goals.

Word the goals carefully

“Set SMART goals,” Kampschroeder said, explaining that goals should be

Specific, Measurable, Active, Realistic, and will take Time to achieve.

If your goal is to lose weight, she said, be specific about the amount over time, such as losing 10 pounds in one year. The 10 pounds is measurable and can realistically be achieved. To make the goal active, she said, determine how you will achieve the goal; for example, losing 10 pounds over one year by exercising three times per week. You should also consider whether you can commit that amount of time to achieving your goal, she said.

Make a plan and identify resources

Those who want to quit smoking may find help and support from The Great American Smokeout’s toll-free number, 1-877-YES-QUIT, which is answered by counselors 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Those who want to lose weight may join a gym or try bicycling or walking. Kampschroeder recommends finding an accountability partner to encourage or participate with you. She also recommends developing a “contingency plan.” For example, those who exercise outdoors should have three options for other workouts in the event of rain.

If your goal is healthier eating, Kampschroeder recommends seeking out true experts in the nutrition field. “Be cautious about what’s on the Internet and in books,” she said. “Check the credentials of the authors.

Remember: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Consider your personality

“Some people are morning people, while others are night owls,” Kampschroeder said. “You should consider that in setting times to exercise. It won’t do any good to exercise during your low-energy periods.”

An intense workout should be avoided before bedtime. “Allow yourself about three hours to wind down,” she said. However, yoga or stretching exercises shouldn’t affect sleep.

Write it down

Whatever the goal, Kampschroeder recommends writing it down and posting it where it will be seen every day, such as on the bathroom mirror, refrigerator or computer.

“Ninety percent of studies of goal setting show that writing down goals has a consistent and powerful effect on behavior,” she said. Writing the goals solidifies them, and posting them provides reinforcement, she said.

Set up a reward system

“Reward yourself when you accomplish a short-term goal,” Kampschroeder said. Those who quit smoking can figure up how much they’ve saved during their smoke-free period and spend that money toward a reward for themselves. However, she said, a reward doesn’t always require a purchase.

Keeping resolutions to lose weight, eat more nutritious foods or quit smoking requires a lifestyle change, Kampschroeder said.

“Lifestyle plays a major role in determining our overall well-being,” she said. “Focus on short-term goals that lead to a long-term lifestyle change. There will be setbacks, but every day is a new start to achieving your goal.”

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For Further Information Contact:

Karen Treat
Senior Copywriter
Tel: (940) 898-3456
e-mail: ktreat@twu.edu