Three Shocking Ways To Prevent New Year’s (Resolution) Mistakes

Portrait of a fit Asian woman walking outside on a road on a sunny day.

I have already heard it from Alexandria Wellness veterans: the new way of eating through January. Even though logically, they realize it won’t stick unless they use the golden three criteria below, they still want to practice their annual no sugar/no alcohol/no dairy/no wheat diet.

I am a big fan of reducing all the above. I am also, however, all about finding ways that the new habit sticks – not just for January – but for the rest of your life.

Portrait of a fit Asian woman walking outside on a road on a sunny day.

Below are my three top ways you can sincerely stick with a New Year’s goal for good.

1. Choose wisely. And choose the simple, easy, and repeatable path. When we choose too many new or big goals, we tend to overreach and not meet any of them. This can lead to frustration, feeling like “I’ll never be able to ______” or, the worst self-talk, “I don’t deserve this.”

Instead, choose one goal that is repeatable, simple, and important to you. Yes, one may seem small, yet the smaller, the better, in terms of your ability to sustain that new behavior.

One footnote on this point of “behavior.” This is what we are aiming to change. We are aiming to change old belief systems and patterns of behavior we’ve practiced often for years. So yes, it is a behavior that we need to change.

The way the brain digests habit change is when the new habit is small, repeatable, and important. You want it to be achievable.

I am a huge fan of daily walks. I’ll admit during this cooler weather, my walks are less frequent, and I do feel the impact. The California girl in me has never fully acclimated to the sub-50 weather. Therefore, instead of walking my typical 30-minute walk twice a day, I choose to walk for just 10 minutes where I can stand the chilly weather. I may even repeat this several times a day. Just 10 minutes can make a difference.

I never regret getting in that 10-minute walk. Nor will you!

Alexandria Wellness flyer saying 'are you ready'

2. Start small. Don’t run a marathon until you walk the block. Eliminating sugar suddenly can result in tons of frustration, stress and may even lead to craving more than before you started the new “diet.” When we get stressed, our “inner victim” – or our reactionary side – is more easily triggered.

Instead, choose days of the week, times of day, or even amounts that are easy to accomplish. Once you choose that new way of approaching sugar and are consistently successful for a month, go ahead and add. It takes the brain a while to adjust to your new behavior. It needs time to adapt and to fully embrace it.

For example, if I chose to eliminate sugar in January, I may choose to avoid it after 12 noon. I have also seen great success with clients who want to eliminate the wine-everyday habit, when they start small with one day, add another, and eventually get to more days without it than with.

Create healthy habits not restrictions - Typographical Poster.

3. Get your sleep. I know I am such a broken record on this one. When we sleep, we recover from our day and tend to make wellness-centric choices. We are also less reactive, less a “victim” of our choices (when we can want to “reward” ourselves with unhealthy choices), more motivated to exercise, and respond to stress instead of reacting to it.

Lack of sleep increases our appetite for junk food and larger portions, stops our fat loss process, and slows our metabolism. Also, it is a leading indicator for serious emotional and physical illnesses like depression, stroke, and obesity.

When we react to stress, we typically hurt ourselves even more than the person or situation with which we are frustrated/angry/etc. Getting our sleep is the first and most important step to being less reactive.

Your goal for 2022 may be to increase your daily movement, reduce screen time, prioritize your self-care, or improve the way you nourish your body. Whatever it is you are aiming to achieve, start with small, sustainable habits which you can build on each day/week/month. And most importantly, get your sleep!

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