How to Make Your New Year's Resolutions Stick

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Cpl. Lyssa Bucklew, an A Marine works out her legs on one of the new pieces of equipment at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point gym in North Carolina.
Cpl. Lyssa Bucklew, an aircraft maintenance administration specialist with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 366, works out her legs on one of the new pieces of the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Devil Dog Gym equipment in North Carolina, Jan. 5, 2012. (Lance Cpl. Glen Santy/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

As January begins, people whisper about their "resolutions." Have you ever followed through with these, or even written them down? This year is the time to make your resolutions count. Sit down and create your schedule for a new you in the new year.

The biggest challenge to making your 2008 resolutions stick is creating ones that are practical. If you're like the rest of America and eat out four times per week, then you may have a goal to save money and your waistline by kicking the fast-food restaurants to the curb. Instead of making bold statements such as, "I will not eat fast food for 2008," opt for: "I will eat fast food no more than once every two weeks."

As you achieve this goal, and it becomes easier to avoid the golden arches, you can refine your resolution to eating fast food no more than once a month, and so on. When you commit to your New You resolutions this year, consider these tips:

1. Write it down

Avoid committing it to memory. Instead, write it out with pride and post it where it will remind you of the goals you have set.

2. Put a number to it

Decide how many times a day, week or month you can do something and shun saying "every day." Life happens, and you don't want "every day" to be the cause of your forgoing all of your goals.

3. Keep it realistic

Although the idea of losing 10 pounds in a week sounds great on infomercials, it's neither realistic nor healthy. Weight-loss goals should be based on losing 1-2 pounds per week. If you want to lose it and keep it off, then keep your goals real.

4. Enlist help from others

This is the time to call your best friend and convince them to make a resolution with you. Hold each other accountable. Call up your most energetic and motivated friends and have a resolution party.

5. Seek out the advice of an expert

If it's exercise goals, seek out a certified exercise physiologist, nutritionist or a registered dietitian. If it's to organize your life, hire a personal organizer or maid.

6. Set yourself up for success

Think positively when you set your goals. People have greater success adding to their daily life than taking away. Try this: "I will eat at least one cup of berries three times each week." When you add in fruit and vegetables, you often have less room for chips and dip.

7. Don't forget to follow up

When you write down your goals, take the time to write down follow-up dates in your calendar. For weekly goals, check on yourself every three months. For monthly goals, check on yourself in six months.

8. Remember to reward yourself

Treat yourself to a massage, facial or new outfit when your resolution has been met and your goal has become a habit.

New Year's resolutions are a way for us to touch base with ourselves and look for ways to make improvements. Don't stress over them. Instead, make them positive, make them real and make them stick. Here's to you in the new year.

As a registered dietitian and culinary consultant, Wendy Jo Peterson has a passion for the healthy palate and making nutrition information a little more edible for everyone. As a military spouse, she understands the challenges of eating on the road, on deployment or with a hectic schedule that comes with the territory. 

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