It's an age-old question: How do I keep my health-related New Year's resolution from failing?
"Be kind and gentle to yourself," said Trish Unruh, nutritionist for the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. "I think a lot of people after the excitement of the holidays are ready to make changes. But if you try do radical changes or go on a real restrictive diet, it's difficult to sustain those changes."
Instead of one big goal at the beginning of the New Year, she says, choose a small resolution you can keep each month. She recommends a few:
— Put healthy foods in clear containers in a visible spot in the refrigerator and high-fat snacks in darker containers in a place where they're harder to see.
— Buy those high-calorie snacks you can't get enough of in increasingly smaller sizes.
— Replace high-calorie drinks like juices and sport drinks with water or whole fruits.
— Start eating breakfast to get your metabolism moving and avoid getting hungry later in the day, when healthy options might not be available.
— Make half your plate fruits and vegetables and the rest grain, lean protein and dairy.
— Cook more often.
"Any changes you want to make -- just take a little time to think about it how it's going to impact you or the rest of your family," Unruh said. "Making them slower gives everyone a chance to adapt."
First, he said, find a certified personal trainer, particularly one with physical therapy experience, to determine a fitness plan.
"I don't do my taxes by myself," Richards said. "I go to someone who's a specialist, who can read the fine print." A good approach to take is to counterbalance your weaknesses, focusing on activities that aren't necessarily your strengths.
Also, he said, start eating often (five to six small meals a day) to keep your metabolism "hot" — like a fire that you're continuously adding logs to.
"If you can limit those big, big meals that anchor you down, that's ideal," he said. And learn to control your glycemic index, or how quickly your blood sugar levels rise after eating.
Finally, Richards added, learn how to rest and get your nervous system under control. That could mean going to a massage therapist or acupuncturist, or even exercising so you can sleep better at night.
Along the way, remember to view failures not in a negative light but, rather, as steps toward success.
"We all fail. Don't let the failure stop you." said Dan Partridge, director of the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. "Keep picking up the ball and moving it forward."
If you continue trying and working at it, you'll eventually begin to feel the positive effects.
"The need for immediate gratification is our enemy," Partridge said. "I think we as humans are pretty good at doing that cost-benefit analysis in our head. When it's hard to take that walk or skip dessert, the benefit seems pretty intangible. But once you start experiencing the benefit, that makes it easier."