It is that time of the year again... time for New Year's Resolutions! Whether you believe in resolutions or not, most people can't stick with them even through the month of January! We have compiled a list of our "Top 6 Tips" to help keep you on track in the new year.
In no particular order:
1. Pick a few resolutions or a WIG
Everyone comes up with a huge list, only to get overwhelmed. Pick a WIG: wildly important goal(s). Chose the goal(s) that matter most and that are truly attainable. You can only do so much at a time, and you are setting yourself up for unnecessary guilt by trying to accomplish too many things only to fail at some. The first goal I set for all my patients is to be independent in their home exercise program (HEP). I have to give them exercises or stretches that they will understand and are easy enough for them to perform. If the HEP is too complex or just too difficult to perform the patient will not be compliant and chances are they will not get better.
2. Set short term goals
We always think of New Year’s resolutions to be changes made over the entire year. Try setting the goal for a month at a time or to be accomplished by the end of the first quarter of the year. Once you have done it for a short period of time you begin to change your lifestyle and it becomes easier or more of a habit. If you build little blocks of success, they start add up.
3. Learn from past failures
If you always resolve to lose weight but fail, try a different approach. Maybe cut one thing out of your diet versus trying to adopt a whole new diet or like resolving to exercise 2 times a week instead. Most people fail because they feel they can not find the time to meet their goal(s). One can not find time under a bed or in a closet...you have to make time. You don’t have to skip your favorite TV show to exercise. Do a small set of exercises during the commercials. A typical 30 minute show has 22 minutes of programming and 8 minutes worth of commercials. If you watch 10 hours of TV a week that is 3 hours worth of ‘down time’ during the commercials.
4. Involve friends and family
Even if only one other person knows your resolution, it will make it easier to keep going. Have someone else hold you accountable. Grab a workout partner for your daily walk or a trip to the gym. Can’t afford a gym membership? It makes a great Christmas present idea. Fitness centers have all kinds of family and friends promotions. Then your family knows and has a vested interest. They may even ask how the workouts are going and you can brag to them about how well you are doing.
5. Reap the rewards
Don’t wait for reaching a far off goal before rewarding yourself, but get little rewards along the way. If you want to lose 30 pounds, come up with a small reward after losing 5 or 10 pounds. When setting Physical Therapy goals I typically set long term goals for 90 days. Usually the WIG for my patients is to resolve their pain. Even after 30 days they may have more range of motion, strength and function, but they still have pain so therefore they do not see themselves as meeting their goal. I have to remind them and show them their smaller gains which usually keeps them working toward their ultimate goal.
6. Develop a new plan
If you fail at your original resolution, re-consider the goal and make an easier goal in the same category. Find what works best for you. For example, if you can’t give up cheeseburgers and fries all together, give them up during the week. Can’t run every day? Run 3 times a week. Many times during a patient’s PT plan of care I will change the individuals HEP depending on what symptoms disappear or what new symptoms may arise. If one exercise becomes too easy I have to keep them engaged and give them a new challenge. The idea is to find something that works for them. If they can decrease their symptoms with an exercise or a stretch they are more likely to perform their HEP which will help them reach their long term goals.
Hope you can achieve all that you set out to accomplish in 2017. Stay happy and healthy!!!