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4 Ways to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

Authored by Dr. Thomas Schuler, MD, FACS, FAAOS. December 29, 2020

The New Year is upon us and so are those proverbial New Year’s resolutions! Some of the usual suspects include: improving nutrition, setting weight loss plans, re-energizing exercise routines, getting organized, the list goes on. With the struggles that 2020 has dragged us all through, it may seem daunting to set any new years resolutions for 2021 due to fear of the unknown: when will we be able to head back to our “regular” routines and lives? My strategy this year is to take a new approach in my resolutions; instead of creating temporary goals that I can simply check off a list, I am setting out to create overall lifestyle changes.

1. Taking an Alternate Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

The difference between fleeting resolutions and goals is that latter are more comprehensive and sustainable over time since they encompass a plan of steps to achieve them and periodic accountability checks. This process-based philosophy also gives you more probability of succeeding and not just one chance to succeed or fail. By creating a broader goal to eat healthier, for example, we are more capable of achieving over a period of time than to set a resolution to completely remove sweets from our diet. A healthier mind and body is an attainable goal that can be met with gradual lifestyle changes instead of unrealistic ones.

2. Sustainability is the Key Word

In order to optimize overall health, not just on a short-term basis, but on a long-term basis, it is important to establish sustainable healthy lifestyle choices. Choosing sustainable activities will be far more successful than something we cannot keep going. A simple example is parking your car further away from the entrance to the grocery store, encouraging you have to increase your steps or deciding to take stairs rather than the elevator. Altering your work environment to incorporate standing as opposed to sitting for 8 or more hours a day, is yet another. While these activities do not replace functional exercise and conditioning programs, they are a step in the right direction to improving our activity and mobility.

3. Everything in Moderation

Many people try fad diets or cleansing diets that shock their systems and can ultimately increase cravings, making it harder to commit to the diet. A more sustainable approach is evolving to a lifestyle where one eats healthy foods on a routine basis and avoids unhealthy foods as much as possible. It is important to remember this tried and true rule: everything in moderation. For example, one should eat natural foods over processed foods, moderate meat consumption, and eat a well-balanced diversified diet. Choosing fish over steak in a restaurant is a practical way to improve consumption of quality foods. In our busy days and lives, it is difficult to avoid certain foods and all temptations without becoming overly anxious or unhappy–keep in mind the rule of moderation. Simple things like making appropriate selections at the grocery store or at a restaurant can make positive strides in improving our overall fitness and health.

4. Simple Starting Points

Right out of the gate, try eliminating soda or sugary fruit drinks, donuts, candy bars, etc. An appropriate goal for one year would be to say, “I will not eat candy bars at work” or “I will not buy donuts and bring them into the house.” Each situation is unique to the individual–but in the end, do whatever works best for you with the goal of making it sustainable. It is also important to be realistic and know that there will be failure and shortcomings. However, the benefit to approaching these goals with a sustainable concept, one understands that there will be shortcomings, there will be weak periods, but then we clean the slate and start anew because it is an overall goal to evolve and maintain those components of a healthy lifestyle!

I Challenge You, Instead Of Setting Resolutions For 2021, Consider Creating Sustainable Goals And Enjoy The Sustainable Progress, Not Only Throughout This Year, But For Many Years To Come.

Dr. Thomas Schuler is a world-renowned, double board certified spine surgeon; trained in both neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery of the spine. He founded Virginia Spine Institute in 1992 and is a recognized international leader in the treatment of neck and lower back conditions. Dr. Schuler is noted among the 100 best spine surgeons in America, and serves as President of the National Spine Health Foundation as well as Chairman of its Medical and Scientific Board. Learn more about Dr. Schuler. 

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About The Author

Dr. Thomas Schuler, MD, FACS, FAAOS

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