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La Prensa: 5 Ways to Stick to your New Year's Resolutions

by Maria Palafox, MD

It is the time of year to look back at all the great things about this last year and count our blessings. Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions.  I also do it on my birthday and have every intention of keeping them because we have goals we want to reach and want to better ourselves in some way. The most common New Year’s resolutions are: lose weight, exercise more, save money, eat better. Many of us blow it by February.

Here are a few tips that I picked out of a wide variety of magazine articles, blog posts and years of advice from family and friends.

Make small changes, not major overhauls.  In an effort to improve my eating habits, I decided to go vegetarian one year, right after eating pork tamales and borracho beans with bacon. It was definitely more difficult than I thought it was going to be because I was not prepared to cook vegetarian meals. Naturally, I failed miserably after about a week of pasta and rice.

Instead of just committing to “eating better,” more specific goals would have helped me succeed. For example, eating vegetables once a day every day would have been a good start, and definitely more manageable. I also started meatless Mondays at my house, and that tradition continues to this day. (It also helps that I make dinner most of the time, so my family eats what mama makes!)

If your resolution is to exercise more, commit to walking three blocks three days a week. A specific goal will be easier to achieve. Write it down.  If you write down your resolutions and tape them to your mirror at home or your computer at work, you will be reminded of what you want to accomplish and motivated to keep trying.

Have a plan for dealing with temptations.  I was committed to exercising four days a week, but I know that I am at my weakest when I get home from work. So instead of setting myself up for failure, I started getting up 20 minutes earlier in the morning and exercising then. I was able to keep my resolution by avoiding the time of day when I would be most tempted to give up and not exercise.

Make your resolutions public. One year I resolved to give up sweets, and I had mentioned it to my niece. We were out shopping and stopped at a candy store, and this wonderful sales girl handed me a sample of caramel cluster—my favorite! As I was about to put it in my mouth I happened to glance over at my niece, who was giving me the stink eye of the century! Naturally, I did not eat the candy and maintained my resolution, at least for that day.

I hope these are helpful! I will let you know if I am able to keep all of my resolutions.

¡Feliz año nuevo!

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