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According to research out of the University of Scranton, the most popular New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. However, history shows that most people are more likely to achieve weight loss if instead they focus on changing their habits, using a SMART roadmap. SMART behavior changes are
It’s tough to maintain a healthy body weight without good nutrition but “eating right” is too vague for most people. To eat right, try a SMART goal: For example, your health goals require a healthy diet. You may decide to try a Mediterranean diet—eating primarily fresh, whole, foods, including vegetables, fruit, beans and lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and olive oil—which is known to foster a healthier weight and to ward off chronic diseases.
Then choose one or more of these SMART options:
To make these goals time-bound, plan for change: Commit to grocery shopping on the weekend to ensure you’re stocked up—fruit, vegetables, hummus for dip, nuts for snacking, and whole grain pasta for a quick dinner—for the upcoming week.
If you aren’t ready for an entire diet overhaul, SMART goals still work in your favor. Simply replacing one unhealthy nutrition habit will put you on the path to reaching your health goals.
Tip: Commit to one goal, on a timeline. Give yourself two to four weeks to establish one healthy habit. (Try keeping fruit and nuts on hand to stay ahead of salty/sugary cravings.) At the end of that time, pick a second goal to build on your success.
No New Year’s resolution would be complete without exercise. As with diet changes, the most successful long-term exercisers employ SMART techniques:
Don’t forget about supporting your body with the right nutrients. When people make diet changes, they may end up short-changing certain nutrients. Here are five pointers for expanding a safe and sensible supplement routine:
If you haven’t exercised in years, talk to your doctor or a knowledgeable exercise trainer about a manageable plan that fits your needs and budget. Consider current exercise trends, and whether they are right for you. CrossFit or military-style boot camps may be all the rage, but they aren’t always kind to mature bodies. If you’re not a fitness buff already, don’t start with activities more likely to strain a muscle or stress a joint because of the new movements in an intense environment.
According to Dr. John M. Grohol, PsyD, it helps to “remember that we're all human, we all make mistakes. It does no good to get depressed or disillusioned by setbacks in trying to reach your goals. It's a part of the process and means nothing more than a temporary setback. Putting such temporary setbacks into their proper perspective can help you move beyond them and put them behind you.”