Do you start out the New Year with pie-in-the sky personal goals? Maybe you don’t even bother to make resolutions because you never follow through with them?
Behavioral experts tell us that it takes three weeks to change a habit, and it needs to be reinforced positively until we adapt to our new habit. One of the mistakes we make about New Year’s resolutions is that we don’t plan how to get it done—we just use wishful thinking. A behavioral goal, with objectives and a plan of action and some positive thinking, can move you through the New Year with a renewed sense of accomplishment. When you make that goal, write down the steps that are necessary to achieve it, and put a timetable into place. You will be more likely to keep at it if you also plan a nice reward!
Here are some examples to improve your health without punishing yourself:
1. Take control of your weight. If you need to take off some “holiday pounds,” decide what eating habits have to go, but also plan what habits need to replace them. Do you eat too many sweets when they are in the house? Don’t buy them, and replace sweets with luscious, healthful fruit. When you get the urge to go for the candy, promise yourself to eat a piece of fruit first. Plan a non-food reward when you successfully lose 5 pounds.
2. Get help from your support team! Want to change a health habit? Find a friend that has an admirable trait you would like to acquire. Does your buddy jog? Ask him/her to help you get started? Want to join the gym but you are a little intimidated? Team up with a friend who regularly works out. Your sister-in-law is a great cook—and you are tired of fast food. Ask to help her cook dinner once a week and pick up some pointers!
3. Set reasonable expectations. Don’t pick an unrealistic goal and then disappoint yourself. Stretch yourself “a little,” in the area of self-improvement. If you don’t really exercise much, promising yourself to walk for 30 minutes, seven days a week is surely a failure ready to happen. You think about buying an expensive treadmill, but you don’t even have a walking program. Perhaps walking regularly, three times a week, for a month, is a reasonable goal that would be rewarded with a new treadmill—you will be more likely to use it!
4. Find ways to improve your diet without great sacrifices. If you drink sugary soda at each meal, can you substitute water? Can you substitute carrots sticks with your lunch sandwich instead of potato chips four out of five days a week? Add a vegetable to every lunch and dinner. Measure your starch servings. Consider more fish or soy in your diet, starting with one meal a week. Keep trying different recipes until you develop a repertoire of ways you will eat fish or soy.
5. Don’t jump on every bandwagon going through town. Give up the wish for that magic weight-loss pill, or the gorgeous movie star’s secret to fitness and beauty (she was born that way!). Don’t be fooled by the commercials with the herbal remedy to fix all your ailments, or think that the three-day miracle diet circulating around the office is going to make you thin. Improve your knowledge of good nutrition and good health habits by using reliable sources, and be your own health advocate. Only you can take care of your health!
6. Strive for a better HbA1c. This test is the marker for good diabetes control. If yours has been above seven percent, make a resolution to improve it. Which of the following do you need to focus on?
a. Control my carbohydrate intake better
b. Test my blood sugar regularly, chart it, and respond with changes
c. Exercise 30 minutes daily
d. Take my medication as prescribed
e. See my doctor on a regular basis
7. Stay informed about diabetes. You are reading this on one of the best, up-to-date and user-friendly websites on diabetes. Visit regularly to read the latest news, find a Certified Diabetes Educator, use our tools, watch a video, and put your opinion in the forums. Also, tell a friend with diabetes to check out our website.