After a tough year (to say the least), many people may be looking forward to 2021 as a chance to start fresh and set a New Year’s resolution for better health. Yet, just as many people will abandon these vows mere weeks into the year. While people start off full of hope, too often something happens along the way that causes them to stop working toward their goals.
Erica Lugo and Steve Cook, the coaches for USA Network’s "The Biggest Loser," understand the importance of goal setting. The two agreed that a resolution can be a powerful way for people to achieve milestones and they both make their own, as well.
“I do make resolutions," Cook told TODAY via email. "One personal, one for business and one for relationships. I focus on something small that I know won’t be easy, but will be doable if I try.”
Lugo agreed that focusing on something tiny, but attainable helps people make the best resolutions.
“A decent one is one that’s all about baby steps that (has) an end goal,” she told TODAY.
They share their recommendations for creating New Year’s resolutions that people can stick to all year long to foster healthy habits.
1. Create a schedule
Say the goal is to exercise more in 2021. It's likely to be more effective with a timeline. A more achievable promise could be to exercise Monday, Wednesday and Friday before work, for example.
“Create a schedule that you will stick to," Cook said. "It’s no coincidence that successful people follow schedules. A schedule allows you to create habits. Habits are important because they are something that no longer takes self-control to complete.”
2. Make it reasonable
Lugo says when she sets goals for herself she makes sure they are smart goals. To create reasonable resolutions, she recommends that people ask themselves some simple questions.
“Is it sensible? Is it measurable? Is it achievable? Is it realistic? What’s the timeline?” Lugo said. “If you can answer all those things with your New Year's resolution, then, more than likely, it's going to work out.”
Considering smaller goals makes it easier for people to fulfill them.
“It’s better to start off with a resolution that you know is possible,” Cook said. “Too often, I hear people talk about how they’re going to eat perfect and train every day, but it’s not doable because it's too far off anything they’re currently doing."
3. Do it with a friend
Simply sharing a New Year’s resolution with a friend, partner or coworker can help people stay accountable.
“Be honest with your friends and family and say, ‘Hey check up on me and I'll check up on you,’” Lugo said.
She added that having people who kept her in check helped her with her own 160-pound weight loss.
“I've only been able to lose the weight because I found people who also wanted to do the same thing,” she said. “I continue to keep it off because I surround myself with people who want to do the same thing.”
While having a buddy that works toward the same resolution helps, simply jotting down a note to self can help, too.
“There is power in writing your resolution down on paper where you will see it on the daily,” Cook said.
4. Revisit resolutions
For some, a New Year’s resolution is so easy that they achieve it within months. That doesn’t mean people should give up on it. Rather, they can keep building and editing it.
“Once your New Year’s resolution achieved you can always make it more challenging, but it’s better to start off slow and build momentum,” Cook said.
In the same sense, if someone stops following their resolution, it might be valuable to examine why.
"Was it too difficult? If so then maybe the resolution needs to be rethought," Cook said. "I also think allowing yourself to be human — to make mistakes, is part of life and people should not beat themselves up when this happens. You only truly fail if you quit."
5. Be mindful
When stress hits, it feels hard to stick to a healthy resolution. Lugo recalls a busy travel day where she thought of putting on PJs and ordering room service. But she paused. Instead, she pulled on exercise clothes to work out and then later ordered a healthy dinner.
“Being mindful is the number one priority when it comes to attaining your goals,” she explained. “I have to actually be mindful and say ‘This is my goal and this is my life. This is not just for whenever it's convenient for me.’”