We all know about New Year’s resolutions. The phrase “new year, new me” gets thrown around every January, with many of us starting the new year inspired to make a change in our lives. But how many of these resolutions actuallystick? According to U.S. News, most resolutions fail by the second week of February. While enthusiasm and good intentions go a long way, this year, I am here to encourage you to NOT have a New Year’s resolution. Instead, aim to create a few healthy habits.
In order to create a healthy habit, you need to pick something that is important to you. I talked with Jessie Furman, our Registered Dietitian, as well as Hannah Hutchison, our Graduate Assistant for Personal Training, to get advice on creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.
Choosing a Goal
"To what are you willing to dedicate the most time, energy, and thought?” Jessie replied when I asked how to choose a healthy goal.
Another way to approach this question is by thinking about the things that may have contributed to you feeling full of energy, fulfilled, and healthy. Hannah said, “Turn the resolution focus towards the things that make you feel better.”
These changes could be related to eating healthier, consistently working out, learning a new language, saving money or staying organized. Whatever it is, your goal needs to be relevant and important to you.
Creating a Plan
After selecting a goal, create a plan. To do this successfully, use SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Breaking down your goal into specific, smaller parts will serve as the stepping stones that lead to success.
Regardless of the goal, it is important to make an action plan that displays how you will progress. Speaking of progress, start small – find simple challenges that you can make happen. However, understand that flexibility is important, and the plan may need to be readjusted along the way. Even when multiple things in life are calling for your attention, don’t fall into what Hannah calls the “all or nothing” thinking barrier. Scaling back on your plan is encouraged, most importantly, not equivalent to failure.
Being Accountable through Available Resources
For some, it helps to be constantly reminded of your goal in order to achieve it. In practice, this could be as simple as writing them down in a journal to track progress, or finding someone with similar goals to hold each other accountable.
As students, University of Florida has many great campus resources. RecSports offers premium fitness programs such as Small Group Training and Personal Training, in which you can customize the schedule and activity. Nutrition Counseling, another premium offering, allows you to learn what eating habits are best for you, from a credible source.
GatorWelland the Counseling and Wellness Centeralso have a lot of opportunities for improving wellbeing. For example, GatorWell Wellness Coaching offers free, individual sessions to help you set goals as well as check-ins throughout the semester. Are you a frequent visitor of Student Recreation and Fitness Center or Southwest Recreation Center? Group Fitness classes are free and abundant (160+ classes offered weekly!). Introduce yourself to the student instructors to share your goals and increase accountability.
While working towards your goal, keep yourself motivated by treating yourself. If you have nutrition goals, your treat can be something non-food related, like going to see a movie. Jessie does not recommend “cheat days” – instead, she promotes sustainability through moderation. “By allowing yourself to have various foods, you are not good or bad for having them.” A positive relationship with all food is less likely to lead to bingeing, and more likely to lead to maintainable eating habits.
Hannah recommends choosing an activity that you actually enjoy so that you are intrinsically motivated to do it over a period of time. That way, you will enjoy getting your heart rate up rather than dreading the activity before you start. This will also lead to developing fitness habits that stand the test of time.
This year, don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself. If you want to make positive change, be SMART about it. Pick something important to you, be accountable, use campus resources, and enjoy the mini celebrations along the way as you work towards achieving your goals!
*Quotes have been condensed for clarity.
- Carter Page, UF RecSports Marketing Assistant