New Year, New You!

New_Years_resolutionsBy Ali Wetherbee

Now that we’re one week into 2015, how are you doing with your resolutions so far? While most people — up to 75% — stick to their New Year’s resolutions for that first week, after one month that number drops to 64%. By 6 months, only 46% are still on track. Where do you think you will fall among those statistics? These are the resolutions Americans make most often:

  • Lose weight and get in shape
  • Quit smoking
  • Learn something new or exciting
  • Diet or eat healthier
  • Save money and climb out of debt
  • Enjoy more family time
  • Travel
  • Reduce stress
  • Volunteer
  • Cut back on alcohol
  • Find a better job
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Any of these resolutions would be great for your physical and mental health, but how likely are you to stick to it? One study found that it takes an average of 66 days to for a new habit to feel automatic, although for some it can be as little as three weeks, and for others it may take nearly 9 months. That means that for a while, your resolutions may feel like a challenge, but if you can stick to it, you can achieve success, whether your goal is to lose weight naturally, to get fit, or to spend more time with your loved ones.

Here are a few tips to ensure you stay on track:

  1. Choose a specific time and place for your new habit. For example, if you are trying to lose weight by exercising more, decide to work out every morning at 7am in your living room. Making new actions part of your scheduled routine makes it less likely that you won’t find the time, energy, or ambition to carry them out.
  2. Figure out the underlying triggers for your behaviors. If you want to save money but find yourself running to the mall every Friday afternoon for some retail therapy, what is causing you to feel like you need to shop? What happens before you have the urge to drive to the store? Is it your stressful Friday morning business meetings? Is it your Thursday night TV show that makes you feel like you need to go out and revamp your wardrobe the next day to emulate your favorite characters? Is it your subconscious reward to yourself for making it through a tough work week?
  3. Replace unwanted behaviors with new, more desirable ones. It’s easier to start something new than to break an old habit. So if you’d like to lose weight and decide to stop snacking after dinner, replace the evening snack time with another activity, such as a family game, a walk around the block, knitting, or practicing a new instrument. You’ll be too busy enjoying your new hobby to feel deprived of your late night snack.

If you are looking for some ideas specific to your resolution, read on!

Losing weight, eating healthier, and getting in shape top most people’s lists each year. Be sure to check out our Metabolism Boosters 2-part series for simple ways to burn more calories. Make exercising an integral part of your day. I like to sleep in clean workout clothes and get up and exercise first thing in the morning. It fits nicely into my daily routine, eliminates the need for multiple showers and clothing changes, and leaves me feeling as energized and focused as a couple of cups of coffee. Plus, getting the workout done early means I won’t become too busy or preoccupied to fit it in. I work out every single day, but incorporate easier routines like yoga or low-impact cardio into my weekly rotation to prevent burn out. Along with exercise, eating right is critical. Now that the temptations of the holidays are past, consider revamping your diet completely — whether that means eliminating gluten or dairy, cutting back on meat, embarking on Paleo or clean-eating meal plans, or finding healthy snacks to replace your processed favorites. If you want a jumpstart, or if you’ve been trying for a while to shed pounds with little success, try one or two of our best natural weight loss supplements. Most of these have been recommended by Dr. Oz for healthy weight loss:

Volunteering is not only good for those you help, but also for your own mind and body. Helping others brings us a feeling of connectedness, alleviates depression, improves confidence, and often keeps us more active. It’s also a great way to learn some new job skills or sharpen old ones. Some individuals struggle to find the right volunteer position. While scheduling yourself for a day working at the soup kitchen each week or volunteering at the nursing home every other Tuesday are wonderful options, even those with more limited availability can find ways to help. My son and I make “blessing bags” for the homeless in our community. These are just small bags filled with warm socks, gloves, toiletries, snacks, and a few dollars or a grocery gift card. We keep them in our car and hand them out when we see someone in need.

If you’ve resolved to learn something new or exciting, this is the perfect time to flesh out your goal a bit. What exactly do you want to learn? If you are crafty, creating a vision board collage might help you zero in on what you’d like to do. You can also explore ideas on Pinterest, or just sit back and allow yourself to daydream for 20 minutes. Once you have solidified your idea, break it down into a few simple goals, and start enacting the first steps. If you’ve always wanted to play guitar, you will need to purchase or rent the instrument, then find a teacher or a self-guided program. If you want to start rock climbing, book a beginner’s session at your local rock gym, and start researching great places to climb.

Climbing out of debt and building up your savings are ambitious goals. The first step is usually to gather all of your bills and credit card statements and create a spreadsheet of your income, expenses, and current budget. Many have found Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps and his other techniques to be useful in reclaiming control over their finances. It is also important to have some idea of why you want to save money. Are you planning a home remodeling project or hoping to afford some professional cooking appliances? Put a picture of your financial goals on your wall or in your wallet. It’s a lot easier to skip the expensive latte when you have a clear mental image of the overseas trip you’re saving up for or the comfortable retirement you would be able to lead.

Reducing stress is on many of our minds after a hectic holiday season. Even though the holidays are over, go back and read our Bust Holiday Stress blog. It gives not only simple lifestyle changes, but also a list of supplements that can naturally calm your nervous system and bolster up your immunity. These tips are useful at any time of year, not just the busy holiday season. Jot down a 10-minute meditation practice every morning at 6am, or work some daily yoga into your schedule. For many who find themselves tense, anxious, or stressed, being quiet and still feels almost impossible. Try active stress relievers such as aerobic exercise or hiking in the woods. Magnesium is critical for anyone under chronic stress or with an overactive nervous system, and an estimated 80% of Americans are deficient in this mineral due to factors such as soil depletion. Natural Calm from Natural Vitality contains bioavailable magnesium in a powder form and Global Healing Center’s Intracal is a top-rated calcium-magnesium supplement available in a convenient capsule. As someone with an innate tendency to become anxious or stressed, this is one supplement I make sure to take every day.

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