It is that time again…time to start working on our New Year’s resolutions and hope that they last. Studies report that 80-91% of New Year’s resolutions don’t last more than six months. Only 8% make it through the end of the year. Twenty-three percent quit by the end of the first week and 43% quit by the end of January.
This year I made three unoriginal New Year’s resolutions. I inadvertently chose a resolution from each of the three most common categories. My first resolution is to lose weight, how many times have we heard that one? A lot. Twenty percent of New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight. It is no surprise that commercials about weight loss programs are ubiquitous in January. But weight loss programs are not often successful, which is why, in a surprising move to me, Weight Watchers is now offering subscribers an opportunity to get prescriptions for weight loss drugs such as Ozempic and Mounjaro.
Another of my resolutions is to lean into joy. I have learned the hard way that life has both incredible highs and depth defying lows. This year, my daughter is getting married to a wonderful man, so I want to celebrate every minute of it. When making that resolution, I thought that I had finally come up with something original. But I guess so did the other 21% of people whose resolution was about happiness.
My final resolution is to improve balance, flexibility, and reduce pain. Again, this resolution is not special, 23% of resolutions are for healthy living. Twelve percent of all gym memberships are made in January.
But this year I mean it. So I have been researching how to be successful. And the most important step is to be realistic and form achievable resolutions. In reflecting on that, I realize that I cannot accomplish all of these goals at the same time.
So, the losing weight resolution will begin as soon as I purge my pantry of food that I purchased for the holidays and my guests. Unfortunately, I am purging it by eating it…so I am pushing the weight loss resolution off until March. Fortunately, I have a deadline, I need to fit into my dress for my daughter’s wedding in September.
As for my resolution to lean into joy, the wedding events won’t start until April, so I can be cranky and morose until then.
Which leaves me with the resolution to improve my balance and flexibility through targeted exercise. I want to improve my mobility, my ability to participate more in sports, and reduce my chronic pain.
After setting realistic resolutions, the next step is to develop a plan. In the past, I have been unsuccessful with yoga, Pilates, and classes for various reasons. But I was handed a solution when I gave a donation to PBS. They asked me if I wanted a gift, I did not, but when they offered DVDs for a program for Aging Backwards, I agreed. I did a little research and believe that this 30 day plan is achievable. (Of course, I must maintain the exercises to remain flexible.)
The next step in keeping New Year’s resolutions is to set milestones and think about how to measure incremental success. For me, the first milestone is completing the 30 days. But, 30 days is long, so I am setting incremental milestones and measurements. Every 3 days I assess if I am feeling better and reward myself with a small treat, and yes, I am already feeling better.
Experts say not to rely on will power. But let’s face it, if exercise and dieting were fun we wouldn’t have to set resolutions. So, of course, willpower is necessary. But by breaking it up and seeing small successes, it is easier to keep going.
Another way to be successful is to set a routine (e.g., mealtimes, exercise times). Classes can help with that. The first week is always the hardest because I am setting the routine and recognizing that will make me better able to continue.
Another tactic to improve success is to use groups. That is why some weight loss programs sponsor group meetings or support groups. Classes also offer group support. Some people have a weight loss or exercise buddy.
For those who are trying to lose weight, remove all of the temptations from the house. As my sister in law says, it is easier to say no in the grocery store than at home.
Experts remind us that resolutions are a marathon and not a sprint; and because of that, we all have setbacks. Accept the slip, but don’t use it as permission to quit.
Yet, with all good intentions, I have just completed my fifth class, and I am already really, really, really bored. Yes, I am feeling better and am hitting my measurement milestones, but this is BORING.
So I am going to rely on the final tactic.
Which is why I am putting my resolutions in this column for all readers to see and ask me how I am doing. And I invite anyone who needs that extra motivation to add your resolution to the comments of shame.
Sometimes we have to resort to desperate measures.
Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.