Are New Year's resolutions worthless?

New Year's resolutions. Worthwhile or plain silly?

New Year's resolutions. Worthwhile or plain silly? by Ryan Neuhofel

New Year's Day usually brings a sense of optimism about “doing better” in the next year. Nearly half of Americans make a self-commitment to some type of lifestyle change once the calendar page is turned; despite everyone knowing that a majority of New Year’s goals fall short in the long run. So why do people perpetually make them year after year? Are they any more likely to succeed than resolutions at other times of year? A Canadian family physician, Dr. Mike Evans, made a great video discussing the statistics behind this issue.

Consistently, the #1 New Year’s resolution is “weight loss” and about half of resolutions are health related. I often get asked advice about how to achieve these goals. From my experience, the commonality among most successful lifestyle changes (at New Years or otherwise) is preparation and planning. Aiming to “lose 30 pounds” in 2013 is admirable, but not something that can typically be ‘willed’ to happen just after the shiny ball drops.

When I inquire about how people plan to achieve their New Year’s weight loss goal, I often hear ill-defined plans such as “less junk food”, “more salads” or “more runs.” While these efforts are well-intended, they are vague moving targets that don’t often produce consistent behavioral change or long term results.

Your chances of success are much better with the initiation of very specific, well defined and preferably trackable activities. Small, frequent actions such as “drinking a large glass of water before every meal” or “walking 2 flights of stairs 5 times every day at work” are not feats worthy of a Facebook post. But they are examples of habits that lead to successful New Year’s resolutions - and there is no better time to start than tomorrow.

Wishing you a happy & healthier New Year!

Dr. Neu

“Dr. Neu” is the physician and owner of NeuCare Family Medicine; a Direct Primary Care practice. He is a board-certified Family Physician (American Board of Family Medicine) and Fellow-candidate in Wilderness Medicine.

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Tagged: NeuCare, weight loss, smoking cessation, new year's resolution, Direct Primary Care


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