Every year, millions of Americans make their New Year’s resolutions. By February, the majority of those people have given up on those resolutions. When you add dealing with a chronic illness like Crohn’s disease to achieving goals, keeping those resolutions can be that much harder. Here are a few tips that might help you make this the year that you meet your resolutions.
Set reasonable goals
When making a resolution, first be sure that what you want to achieve is realistic. Setting goals that are 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, and research shows that specific goals are more likely to improve health outcomes. 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, keep 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 you note any progress. Knowing where you were at the beginning is the only way to know if your health is improving. This type of “self-monitoring” is most effective in helping you to achieve your health goals.
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 that works best for you.
Plan for failures
Listen – no one is perfect. We 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 moment of failure. 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 lose the first 10 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 2 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 live through Crohn’s, I have full confidence that you can meet any resolution you set your mind to. GOOD LUCK!