sparklersAs we inch toward the new year, American Family Care physicians have been talking with patients about lifestyle changes that can help them feel healthier. It probably comes as no surprise that these discussions mirror some of the top New Year’s resolutions — eating better, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking to name a few!

But, even as we address these topics, we recognize that big life changes aren’t always easy. Most people start out with a bang and then BOOM; life gets in the way. Rushing to and from after-school activities finds you driving through a convenient fast food joint. A cold keeps you on the couch for a few days and the next thing you know you never go for another fitness walk. A stressful project at work has you running outside for a quick smoke just to calm your nerves. Suddenly, you buy a pack “just in case”. Does any of this sound familiar?

If, like so many others, you find it tough to make progress on your health and wellness goals, take these tips into consideration:

Baby Steps = Big Gains

Trying to make massive changes overnight could mean setting yourself up for failure. So, if you want to start exercising, set an initial goal for a couple of times a week instead of every day. If you want to stop smoking, slowly start cutting back. Little steps are easier to keep up with, and the initial success will have you longing for more.

One Behavior at a Time

At the beginning of the year, when you’re full of expectations and energy, it’s easy to be excited about change! But, it’s not a good idea to resolve to lose 20 pounds, find a new job, get more organized and fall in love all at one time! Trying to do too much at once can make it harder to achieve even one change, leading to frustration and discouragement. Tackle only one thing at a time to keep from feeling overwhelmed.

Share Your Experiences

Some people find that joining a support group or at least having a partner by your side can help you reach your goals. It means you have someone to talk with when the going gets tough. A group or partner can also help provide accountability, which helps keep some people on track.

Don’t Get Down on Yourself

Unless you have steel-like willpower, you will make mistakes! It’s only human. The key is to accept those momentary lapses and NOT let them totally derail you! OK! So you ate a piece of cake during a moment of weakness. Don’t fall into despair and give up just because you stumbled. You’ll have ups and downs, but recover from your mistakes and get back on track.

Whether your resolutions are about health, fitness, wellness or something entirely different, use these tips to plan how you will accomplish your goals in the upcoming year. And, if you need to talk with a physician about the steps that make the most sense for you or a loved one, American Family Care is here to help put you on the path to better health.