Keep New Year’s Resolutions with Realistic Goals

By Lindsay Street

Berkeley County resident Cathy Cole looks like the picture of perfect health. Slender with a vibrant smile she easily hides two significant risk factors for chronic disease: stress and a sedentary lifestyle. To turn these risk factors into motivation for a healthier lifestyle, Cole, who’s in her mid-50s, started taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle as part of her New Year’s resolution.

“My goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day every day for the rest of year,” said Cole. Like many others with a similar goal recently ordered a treadmill. “In the meantime, I participate in a walking challenge with my family. She’s determined to keep the promise she made to herself.

New Year’s resolutions usually fall into specific categories, according to behavioral health expert and psychiatrist Yevgeniy Gelfand, MD, who’s on the medical staff at Lowcountry Transitions at Trident Medical Center.

“Exercise, finances, weight, and relationships are among the most common categories for New Year’s resolutions,” Gelfand said.

Many make resolutions. Fewer keep them. To increase your chances of keeping a resolutions, Gelfand said:

“Set realistic goals. Don’t make too many resolutions. Make sure they are within your budget of time and money. And, make sure it’s something you want to change versus trying to please someone or prove something to someone.”

Cole admits her goal of walking 10,000 steps a day for the year is ambitious, but she’s motivated to literally take the steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle that will give her an opportunity to be active as she matures. “As we age it becomes harder to reverse poor health. My 10,000 steps-a-day goal on the treadmill also gives me time to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes – reading.”

Gelfand says there are three common barriers that keep people from keeping their resolutions.

“Many people put too much pressure on themselves; many others start out hot, but get burned out quickly; and others find their resolution creates conflicts with family members.”

He said turning a resolution into a habit often comes with starts and stops along the way.

“It’s okay to get off track. It doesn’t mean you failed. It’s okay to readjust your goals; perhaps they were too ambitious. It’s better to achieve a smaller goal than no goal at all.”

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