Article By Chris Zellers, MPP -Assistant Professor/Educator, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County, Family & Community Health Sciences Department
As the New Year approaches its common for Americans to partake in setting New Year’s Resolutions. While making resolutions as the calendar changes to a new year is a reasonable idea, often times those well intended life-style changes go to the wayside quickly because the resolutions are not reasonable or obtainable. There is not a lot of concrete evidence on what resolutions work or for whom but there is support for positive results by those who add things in rather than eliminate. Resolutions are things that we want to change while goals are what we want to achieve, which again is the difference between positive and negative or adding versus eliminating. When making changes for the new year think about setting goals for overall health rather than eliminating something, this positive mind-set might just be the trick for a successful 2023!
No matter what the New Year’s resolution make it for optimal success if change is really desired or better yet set a goal that is achievable. Setting weight loss resolutions that involve food elimination of a major nutrient will make success difficult. Fad diets often focus on food elimination, like eliminating carbohydrates for instance. These diets are usually not easy to sustain because our bodies need healthy carbohydrates like whole grains and fruits for energy and nutrients. Undertaking a new eating pattern that is hard to stick with often undermines our need to be social around meals as well so if you want to eliminate or avoid something then eliminate that fad diet and try adding healthy options. To maintain a healthy weight or to get to a healthy weight set goals that are realistic. For example, adding more vegetables into the day is a goal and it is obtainable. Having just one objective to focus on will make it easier to achieve the goal for long-term benefits. After mastering more veggies every day is complete then move on to adding more lean protein like fish or chicken. Here again the focus is adding not taking away and theoretically eating more healthy protein and vegetables will leave less room for those foods that may prevent weight loss like high caloric foods such as sweets. Exercising more is another popular change for the New Year and while gyms fill up on January 2nd with enthusiastic new members often by mid-February the motivation has gone to the wayside. Just as eating healthy can be broken down into smaller goals so can physical activity. The Move Your Way campaign encourages Americans to move when they can and in smaller increments if necessary. If exercising is a chore find a time, and activity that you enjoy and try doing it with a friend for encouragement. Just like a variety of vegetables is good for us so is a variety of exercise, mix it up and realize how great it makes you feel for added encouragement. As 2022 ends and 2023 begins set positive goals around achieving health and happiness!