After the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve, everyone has the tendency to look forward, plan changes and enact resolutions to be a better version of themselves during the coming year. Unfortunately, most of these resolutions are broken and forgotten by mid-February.
URec’s exercise physiologist Caitlin Doyle and UNB’s registered dietitian Anna Jackson offer some advice on sticking to your new year’s resolutions and making effective, maintainable changes.
“I would suspect health and nutrition resolutions have gone up,” Jackson said, speaking to the popular goal of getting healthier after the holidays.
Both women note an increase in the use of their services after New Year’s, with higher attendance at the Currie Centre and more dietitian appointments made at the beginning of the semester. But Doyle says rates drop again after a month or so.
She attributes this to over-ambitious resolutions.
“Sometimes we have grand expectations for ourselves, but it is better to start with something small,” Doyle said. “So if you haven't ever been to the gym, maybe just trying to get there once or twice a week would be the best thing.”
It is easy to get excited over the prospect of change and jump in head first without considering a long-term maintenance plan.
Doyle says a little more thought and careful planning can be the solution to a failed resolution. Something as simple as writing workout time into your schedule as if it were a meeting or a class can be an effective way to motivate yourself.
“Look at it more as a goal. You want it to be something that you can actually accomplish, and that is in line with what you value,” Doyle said.
Jackson echos these sentiments, saying that the diet industry convinces you that it's possible to make these changes all at once, when that simply isn't true.
“The dieting industry makes so much money because diets don't work,” she said. Instead Jackson, much like Doyle, says that the key to making effective changes is introducing them in a more attainable and impactful way.
Both Jackson and Doyle recognized the added challenges of student life in regards to health-related resolutions. Doyle in particular recognizes that the February drop in gym attendance happens to coincide with midterm season.
“Sometimes it can go on the back burner. If you have a busy day, [going to the gym] is the first thing that gets taken off the list,” Doyle said.
Remembering to set attainable goals can help you maintain your resolutions despite a busy schedule. “It doesn't have to be a workout for an hour, you don't even have to be at the gym,” Doyle said. “Even if you could find a smaller portion of your day just to go for a quick walk.”
Jackson suggests combining budgeting with healthy eating, such as eating out less and adding more plants to your diet.
The key, it seems, to maintaining New Year’s resolutions is to ensure that the goal is attainable, valuable to you, and fits your lifestyle.