Keeping a New Year's resolution is hard; experts have advice

NOW: Keeping a New Year’s resolution is hard; experts have advice

WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- If you set a New Year’s resolution this year, you are not alone.

And if that resolution is already broken, you are also not alone.

Most resolutions last two weeks, creating the unofficial holiday called “Quitters Day,” which is recognized as the second Friday of January

How can you reverse that trend? We talked to experts on one of the most common resolutions, eating better and getting more exercise, and found out the advice applies to nearly anything you want to accomplish.

Susie Kundrat, clinical professor of nutritional sciences at UW-Milwaukee, says start simple.

“I think that we get overwhelmed thinking we have to start a whole new diet, or we have to be really restrictive or do something that’s really painful, and we don’t,” she said.

For example, if your goal is to eat better, start with one piece of fruit a day. But even the smallest, simplest changes take planning to execute consistently.

“What am I going to do to make that happen? I’m going to check my pantry, I’m going to see what I have now, I’m going to make a list of the ones I like, then I’m going to get to the store,” Kundrat said.

Stacey Nye, a PhD, clinical professor and director of the UWM Eating Disorder Clinic, says exercise goals should be fun, not punishment.

“If you hate to run, don’t tell yourself you are going to start to run, why would you torture yourself like that?” she said.

Both experts say that missing a day at the gym or binging on potato chips does not need to trash the goals you set. Stay positive.

“Beating ourselves up only makes things worse, we don’t accomplish anything through grief or punishment,” Nye said.

Eating better and moving more is obviously good for your body, but Nye says it is also very beneficial for your mental health.

“Exercise is one of the best things people can do for depression and anxiety,” she said.

Kundrat says a Wisconsin winter, combined with the diminished activity during the pandemic, has made it an uphill battle to keep healthy habits.

“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle lessens the risk of a lot of disease that is brought to the forefront with the pandemic,” she said.

So if you want to stick to your resolutions:

  • Pick achievable, bite-sized goals. Think small, you can always add to them later.
  • Make a plan. If you decide to eat more fruits and vegetables, plan that out at the next trip to the grocery store.
  • And if you lose motivation, focus on why you are making the change. You don’t need to wait for the new year to start over or start again on your goal.
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