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New Year's Resolutions: How to Make 'em so You Don't Break 'Em: Energy Express

By Marilynn Preston

As 2006 comes to a close, many of us open our minds to making changes in 2007. And research shows most of those changes have to do with living a healthier lifestyle: "I want to start exercising every day!" "I want to lose weight!" "I want to stop being angry; start eating breakfast; back off the booze; bicycle to work; worry less and enjoy life more." It's your call.

The real question is: If you dream it, can you do it? I say yes, but to be fair, the odds are against you. Experts tell us most New Year's resolutions are doomed to failure. It's sad, but true -- but here's the good news. It doesn't have to be true for you. Genuine and long-lasting lifestyle change isn't easy, but it is possible. You must believe that -- Really! Deep down! -- or you're defeated before you've begun.

To help you succeed, consider the following:
1. FIRST GO INSIDE. Don't go on remote control when you make your 2007 resolutions. Take time, find a quiet space and ask yourself what changes are meaningful to you. Understand that you can't change because your wife or doctor wants you to. You must decide for yourself. If you ask the question and nothing emerges that is true for you, don't bother to make any resolutions. You're not ready for change.

2. FOCUS ON THE WHY. Ask yourself why you want to start a running program, strength-train, take yoga, eat more fruits and veggies. The why is as important as the what. Once you are truly in touch with what you want and why, write it down in a journal and resolve to keep it going for at least six months.

3. COMMIT TO SMALL CHANGES. Setting unrealistic goals only sets you up for failure. Losing 20 pounds in a month, for example, is a foolish notion. Can you starve yourself? Sure. But it's dumb and teaches you nothing about healthy eating over the long haul. Scale down your 2007 goals to bite-sized challenges -- i.e. lose a pound or two a week. Record your goals in your journal and reread them once a week. Every two weeks, reward yourself for not giving up.

4. BE SPECIFIC. Or nothing will change. Don't vaguely tell yourself you'll cut down on fat, for instance. Decide on the details: remove skin from your chicken; substitute jelly for butter on your whole-grain toast; switch your morning donut for a bowl of high-fiber bran flakes. If it's exercise you want more of, be very specific about what you'll do and when. Schedule workouts on your calendar. Get it? Details, details, details.

5. FIND A PARTNER OR COACH, OR JOIN A GROUP. Journaling is one proven way to modify behavior, and so is finding a workout partner or coach, or joining a group that shares your goals. This really works and, for most of us, is much more likely to lead to long-term lifestyle change than trying to go it alone.

6. GIVE IT TIME. Some days, the best part of your workout is simply showing up. Accept that. It takes time to develop new habits. Be patient. If you feel yourself slipping and falling, get back up and try again. Every day is a new beginning. That's the basis of lifelong success.

7. DON'T COMPETE OR COMPARE. Healthier living is a very personal thing. For some, it's training for a 50-mile bike ride. For others, it's walking a mile without collapsing. It doesn't matter where you start. What counts is how far you come. Simply moving from inactivity to activity brings enormous health benefits. So run your own race, at your own pace.

8. OVERCOME ALL OBSTACLES. No time to exercise? No extra money to spend on health clubs? No problem. All obstacles can be overcome. Wake up earlier. Train at home with DVDs or used equipment. Once you make up your mind to succeed, your body will follow. And be grateful.

So tick-tock, time to take stock. Begin by sitting still...

Anyone out there with an "I made my New Year's Resolution Come True" success story to share? Send us an email at editor@momtalk.com.

"If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living." -- Gail Sheehy

Marilynn Preston -- fitness expert, personal trainer and speaker on healthy lifestyle issues -- is the creator of Energy Express, the longest-running syndicated fitness column in the country. She welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to MyEnergyExpress@aol.com.

Categories: Just for me, Take Care of You,

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