Every November and December millions of Americans make plans for their New Year’s Resolution. By February the vast majority of those very people have given up. When you add dealing with a chronic illness like Crohn’s it can make keeping those resolutions that much harder. Here are a few tips that can help you make 2016 the year that you meet your goals.
Set reasonable goals
The first thing about making a resolution is to be sure what you are wanting to achieve is realistic. Setting goals that are way too far out of reach for your health issues will only set you up for failure. Reasonable goals for your health and fitness can be established with your physician or dietitian’s help. Make an appointment now to establish a plan with specific goals for the new year.
The more specific the goal the easier it is to follow. For example, having the goal to “get healthy” is vague and can be hard to plan around. In contrast a specific goal like “eat at least five fruits and veggies a day” or “exercise 30 minutes per day” is significantly easier to measure. If health is your overall goal then set several of these smaller specific goals to hit instead of one larger vague one.
Track your progress
The first thing I tell my patients who want to improve their diet is - use a food journal and write everything down. If you are working toward a goal and aren’t tracking your progress it can be impossible to accurately account for what you have been doing. For example, most people who are asked to sit down and account for anything they ate or drank in the last 72 hours will have a very hard time doing the task. Which is why dietitians recommend food journals. Tracking can also help you to see how much you have accomplished. Keeping track of your lab values, weight and fitness level can help note any progress. Knowing where you were at the beginning is the only way to know if your health is improving.
Accountability can come in many different forms. There are numerous online groups that can help you keep accountable. It can also help to tell several of your friends or post on your social media sites so that everyone knows you have a resolution you are trying to meet. Even your physician can help keep you accountable - just be sure to tell them that you want reminders. Pick whichever way to keep accountability that works best for you.
Plan for failures
Listen - no one is perfect. We will all make mistakes and fail at some point in our lives. The difference between people who keep their resolutions and those that give up is what you do in that one moment. Do you use the mistake as an excuse for turning back to the old behavior or do you dust yourself off and start over the next day? People who don’t allow a little mistake to derail their previous progress are much more likely to meet their resolutions.
Reward your successes
Did you loose the first ten pounds or make it through the month without fast food? You deserve a reward for your success Pre-plan some rewards to use throughout the year that help you succeed. For example, if you met your workout goals for two months - buy yourself that cute workout outfit you’ve been eyeing. Just be sure your reward doesn’t derail your progress.
Keeping a resolution isn’t easy but neither is having Crohn’s Disease. If you can fight through Crohn’s I have full confidence that you can meet any resolution you set your mind to - GOOD LUCK!
Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in dietetics as well as graduate work in public health and nutrition. She has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years. Jennifer also serves the Board of Directors for Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER).