If you made promises to be healthier at the start of the New Year, chances are you may have fallen off the resolution bandwagon. In fact, approximately 80 percent of people fail to stick to their New Year’s resolutions for longer than six weeks.
Yes, February is already here. But you don’t have to be on the wrong side of that statistic.
If you feel like you’re beginning to slip, it may be time to revise your thinking about realistic goal setting. After all, deciding to make a change is only the first step. Figuring out an action plan to achieve success takes a lot more planning – and that’s where many of us get off track.
Whether you want to eat healthier, be more active or sleep better, here’s a fun quiz to help you think about easy ways to reset your wellness goals. These are examples of how to take one small action step — a baby step — to experience a small success to build on. It’s a big mental boost to achieve any goal (no matter how tiny) that you’ve set for yourself!
1. You want to lose a few pounds this year. Giving up which of these drinks is going to help you trim the most calories?
A. A medium sized, fancy coffee drink
B. A 12-ounce can of soda
C. A 5-ounce glass of wine
ANSWER: A – A fancy coffee drink weighs in at around 300 calories. Skip it, and look for a small skim milk latte or black coffee with milk. A can of soda is 150 calories, and a 5-ounce glass of wine (red or white) is around 130 calories.
2. You want to exercise, but only have 20 minutes in your schedule. What will give you the biggest burn at the gym?
A. The elliptical machine
B. The stationary bike
C. Walking on the treadmill at an incline
ANSWER: C- Walking on an incline will burn nearly twice the calories of using an elliptical machine, and about 30 percent more than the stationery bike. Calories vary for a woman’s height and weight – and can range from around 130 calories to close to 180 calories for 20 minutes of incline walking. But most important is to choose an activity you enjoy so you’ll stick with it. And think about the “activity of daily living.” In other words, walk as much as you can, and don’t “save” your exercise for the gym!
3. You’re trying to give up desserts, but your sweet tooth is calling. What’s a good way to satisfy it without getting off track?
A. Five Hershey kisses
B. A handful of yogurt-covered raisins
C. Three sugar-free cookies
ANSWER: A. The Hershey package lists nine kisses as one serving, but downsize to five for about 110 calories for a real chocolate treat that is satisfying. Yogurt raisins only add a sugary coating to raisins, and a handful weighs in at nearly 150 calories. Plus it’s too easy to grab another handful. Sugar-free have a similar number of calories as regular cookies. You might also choose a piece of fruit, but if that doesn’t work (and it doesn’t for many people) consider a modest portion of a “treat” that will satisfy, without triggering you to overeat.
4. You’re really trying to get eight hours of sleep every night. What's the minimum number of hours you can sleep without impacting your health?
A. 5 hours
B. 6 hours
C. 7 hours
ANSWER: B-Six hours. While sleep needs vary, most people need seven to nine hours a night, but it can be as few as six hours, or as many as nine. Studies show fewer than six hours nightly on a regular basis is a health negative. We do NOT adapt to less sleep over time — so be realistic in your goals. For starters, aim for one hour more than you get now, and work from there as needed. And, sleeping later on the weekend (or a nap) can help, as long as it’s an hour or two. Sleeping the day away can interfere with your body’s daily rhythms.
5. You’ve vowed to cut back on caffeine this year. What’s a daily healthy amount to aim for?
A. 1 medium cup (around 12 ounces)
B. 2 medium cups
C. 3 medium cups
ANSWER: B- Two medium cups totals around 300 mg of caffeine (about 150 mg/12 ounce serving) which is the recommended limit from health guidelines. The health benefits of coffee are unrelated to the caffeine, so decaf provides the same positive impact. Remember that a serving is not the size of the cup – it’s the ounces. A typical mug at home is around 12 ounces. But coffeehouse sizes are giant – and can be up to 24 ounces per drink. Calculate your total caffeine intake carefully. If you’re caffeine sensitive, limit your intake even further, and avoid caffeine after 2 p.m. to minimize sleep issues. The key is to limit, not eliminate!
How’d you do? Think about your own “baby steps” for behaviors you want to change, and new habits you want to make. Remember, it takes at least three weeks of daily practice to form a new habit!
Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D. is the NBC News Health Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.