Make SMART resolutions for the new year

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It seems everyone is offering ideas this week for New Year’s resolutions we should be making. I don’t know the statistics on how quickly people break their resolutions, but I am sure that someone on the Internet will tell us. Resolutions don’t need to be something that’s easily dismissed.
I think the key to resolutions is that it’s not something you’re going to do for a while — like a diet and then it will be over — if you’re making a resolution to change something in your life that you really want or need to do. It also should be something that will become part of your life forever.
The folks at Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less encourage people in that program to set SMART goals. This advice works for resolutions, too.
S — Set a specific goal. Not that you want to lose weight, but that you want to lose 50 pounds. Make your goal attainable. Consider making a goal of losing one pound a week.
M — Make the goal measurable. How can you track your progress or know if you kept the resolution? It might be as simple as taping a chart on the wall by your scale and writing your weight down once a week. How will you really know if you don’t?
A and R — Make the goal attainable and realistic. It’s not realistic to think you can lose those 50 pounds by April, but it is realistic to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. Since it is 12 weeks until April, you could really lose 15 pounds by then. The more unrealistic you are with this goal the easier it will be to break or forget it.
T — Timely. Set a date to reevaluate. Write your smart goal down.
An example of a good SMART goal is: “I would like to lose 15 pounds by April 1. I will weigh myself every week, write the weight on a chart and reevaluate this in April and set a new goal.” You might also want to find a way to motivate yourself a little more by adding another more tangible goal like, “I’d like to walk in the next “Race for the Cure.”
If your goal or resolution for the New Year is to lose some weight and be healthier, I’m suggesting that we learn from some folks that have done that and kept the weight off. They have made some changes in their life that has become part of what they do and who they are.
There is a National Weight Control Registry (www.nwcr.ws) that looks and records information about successful weight loss. They track people who have lost significant amounts of weight and then kept it off for at least a year. They have tracked more than 10,000 people since 1994. We can learn from these folks.
What are their research findings? There are some characteristics of these folks that can help all of us lose weight, keep weight off and over all be healthier. What are these traits and habits?
• 98 percent modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.
• 94 percent increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking.
• 90 percent continue to exercise on average about one hour a day.
• 78 percent eat breakfast every day.
• 75 percent weigh themselves at least once a week.
• 62 percent watch less than 10 hours of television a week.
It was also interesting to learn that 45 percent of the registry participants lost their weight on their own and the other 55 percent lost the weight with the help of some type of program. You’ll need to think about what method would work for you.
If you don’t have some of these habits, this may be a good place to start with your New Year’s resolutions for 2014. You don’t have to do them all. Just pick one or two and work on that goal in January, and then perhaps you can add another goal later in the year.
Be SMART with your resolutions this year and who knows, you may have some more healthful habits by the end of the year.
If you’ve successfully lost weight in the past and have kept it off, you are invited to join the National Weight Control Registry online.
Source: Eat Smart, Move More, Weight Less (www.ESMMWeighLess.com) is a weight management program developed by NC Cooperative Extension and the Physical Activity Branch of the NC Division of Public Health.
Cheryle Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science staff member and can be reached at NC Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, at 253-2610.