Special to the Recorder
As you change your calendar from December to January, there’s always a thrill in the promise of a new year that’s full of potential. The new year is a chance to start fresh and say goodbye to any of the previous frustrations – a perfect opportunity to make resolutions that will help strengthen your spirit, mind and body.
But many of us find our resolutions thrown out along with the holiday decorations. It’s no wonder – starting the new year by making declarations that we’re going on a drastic diet or will hit the gym every day doesn’t exactly set us up for success. While choosing a resolution is easy, sticking to it can be impossible. A 2014 YMCA survey found that less than a quarter of respondents kept their resolutions. Many (71 percent) tried, but fell short of their goals, while 40 percent confessed that they gave up within the first few months, even weeks, of the new year!
Setting yourself up for success
By reframing resolutions in a positive way and breaking them down into smaller, easy-to-sustain goals, you’ll see big benefits in the long run. For example, you may want to limit your screen time in 2017, but that can be more manageable if you replace it with something positive, like volunteering or setting special time aside for family.
“You can find a ‘new you’ in the new year by setting yourself up for long-term success, instead of short term failure,” said Erin Dankworth, wellness director at the Ponte Vedra YMCA. “Don’t fear failing by thinking you have to change, or see a change tomorrow. No one will change overnight, but we all change over time. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but your weaknesses turn into strengths when you focus on the best parts of you.”
It’s important to not let yourself get discouraged by setbacks. Even though you may experience some missteps throughout the day or even the week, that doesn’t mean you have to give up. As a community-serving organization here in Ponte Vedra Beach, the Y knows making lifestyle changes and helping others will impact your life and someone else’s life for the better.
Here are eight simple ways to help your 2017 New Year’s resolutions stick:
Start small. Break those big resolutions into small, achievable goals. Instead of cutting chocolate out of your diet for good, vow to have it only a few times a week. Or trade your two sodas a day for one soda and a glass of water. Don’t try to start out too hard in your workout either: A Ponte Vedra YMCA personal trainer can help tailor a workout specifically for your needs. Stop by to see the great deals we have on personal training and nutrition packages.
Take it one step at a time. Trying to change too many habits at once can easily lead to frustration. Instead of a New Year’s resolution, make a New Month’s resolution. Focus on that one change for the month, and add another small change when the new month rolls around.
Move more. It’s important for adults to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day (60 minutes for children). Incorporate physical activity into your daily routines and spend more time walking to places instead of driving to improve your health and well-being. Have you set a goal to run one of the many races in the Jacksonville area, like the Gate River Run? Join our free Gate River Run training program starting this month.
Choose a facility that focuses on a holistic approach to health. When it comes to adding healthy behaviors like increasing physical activity, it’s important to find a facility that keeps you motivated. Before committing to a membership, take a tour of local gyms to find the best fit for you. Your facility should not be just a gym, but a community organization that offers more health, more hope and more opportunity. This month the Y is waiving our joining fee, giving new members free access to an eight-week weight loss program plus $100 in Y bucks that can be used for massage, personal training, youth sports and more.
Swap a soda a day. It’s difficult, but cutting soda can do wonders for your body. If you can’t cut it entirely, resolve to swap one soda a day for a large glass of water instead. Once you’ve been able to swap one out, see if you can cut soda entirely. The Y also has registered dietitians on staff with a full menu of nutrition services to help you achieve your weight loss and healthy eating goals.
Talk it out. It’s easier to stick to your resolutions if you have a partner or friend working toward similar goals. Team up with someone to set your 2017 goals and help each other establish a game plan dedicated to achieving them. Set specific check-ins to help each other out of slumps and to cheer each other during the high points. The Y’s member referral program offers friends up to 40 percent off the standard membership rate when they make a commitment to the Y and to each other!
Make family time a priority. With work, school and activities, family time may seem like an impossible ask, but see if your family can have a “screen-free” night with no phones, video games, etc. Instead, use that time to play a board game, play outside, visit with family and friends or participate in one of the Ponte Vedra Y’s Family Nights.
Volunteer. Giving back and supporting neighbors benefits everyone involved. Not only is it a personally rewarding experience to help others in need, but it’s also a way to meet new people or discover a new interest. Find an opportunity in your community, such as reading to children at a YMCA Reads! after school site or distributing food at a local food bank.
For additional tips or to learn more about how to stick to your resolutions or get involved with the Ponte Vedra YMCA, call (904) 543-9622 or visit FirstCoastYMCA.org.
Jennifer Ryan is the executive director of the Ponte Vedra YMCA.