The beginning of the new year bought massive lines at salad chains in New York City, Boston and Washington DC. Fueled by those making New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, salad chains like Chopt and Sweetgreen are being plagued by lines of as many as 100-plus people. According to news reports, fast food joints such as McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A were seeing a major slowdown — though that trend will surely reverse by February, at which point 80 % of people will likely have abandoned their resolutions.
According to registered dietitian, Dina Khader,MS, RD, CDN, from The Khader Center based in Mount Kisco, NY, “We have all been there: we wake up on New Year’s Day full of hope, excited by new goals and work toward them. Initially, we approach resolutions with gusto, getting up for early workouts, eating healthier, meditating every evening, or practicing mindfulness throughout our day. For a few weeks, it feels great. But after a month or two, we find ourselves losing energy. We slip up and sleep in. We become frustrated that we are not making progress and give up.”
According to a report in USA Today, the sad reality is that many New Year’s resolutions fail within a few weeks of starting. It seems Jan. 17 is D-Day for New Year’s resolutions – the day most people give up on good intentions and fall back into old habits. “While the numbers are not promising, if you can understand why your resolutions fail, you can actively learn healthy ways to be more successful,” adds Khader. According to Khader, many resolutions are scrapped for the following reasons:
Not Staying Excited
Khader finds that part of the problem that arises with resolutions is that new projects are exciting at first, but the excitement often wears off. One of the most challenging parts of any resolution is that it requires to get out of old habits, which are incredibly comfortable and hard to break. “At first, it is easy to eat healthier or get to the gym, but as soon as we skip a workout or overindulge in dessert, we feel that we have failed. This makes us lose focus and energy. We become more and more critical of ourselves and less and less motivated. Eventually, we give up on the resolution altogether,” says Khader.
“We wonder whether we truly needed to change in the first place, and our new behaviors start to slip. On a deeper level, resolutions often do not work out because we are afraid of failure. Rather than doing a challenging task that will bolster our self-esteem and help us reach our goals, we substitute easier, less-rewarding tasks that are less motivating,” explains Khader.
Not Planning Ahead
Another issue that gets in the way is over- or under-planning. Many spend a lot of time perfecting goals and projects rather than actively working on them. Others do not plan enough, their resolutions are not clear, or they do not make a plan for how they will achieve their goals. “For example, if you make a resolution to simply eat healthier, your goal is too vague. If you instead resolve to eat five servings of vegetables per day and use an app to track your progress, you not only have a clear goal, but also a specific direction,” recommends Khader.
Recommendations for the year ahead:
Start Small and Work Your Way Up
First, start with small goals and build up to set more challenging goals over time. 35% of people who succeed at their resolutions did so by creating achievable goals for themselves. “Be realistic: if you know you will not get up seven days a week for a 6 am workout, start with two days. If you want to lose 20 pounds, set a goal of losing one pound a week and use a calorie-counting app or work with a nutritionist to make a successful plan,” advises Khader.
Lean on a Support System
People with a support system tend to do a better job of achieving their resolutions. According to Khader, commit to exercising with a friend, or enlist your spouse to eat healthier or start a mindfulness practice with you. If your goal requires you to “go it alone,” ask the people you love to support you and cheer you on. For those having trouble finding enough time to keep up on resolution, prioritize commitments and ask for help.
“Eliminate anything in your life that you do not absolutely need to dedicate time. For example, find other parents to carpool to help you free up an hour for an early morning workout. Or ask your partner to cook dinner a few nights a week so you can attend an art class,” advises Khader.
Show Compassion, to Yourself
“If you are one of the millions who fail to reach a specific goal, do not beat yourself up. People who have compassion toward themselves and less guilt surrounding their failures are more likely to stay committed to their resolutions and reap the rewards,” concludes Khader.
The Khader Center
Founded in 2009 by registered dietitian and author, Dina Khader, MS, RD, CDN, MIFHI, The Khader Center is Westchester County’s premier nutrition center offering an integrative approach to nutrition and health. The Khader Center offers a wealth of safe, natural, and cutting-edge health solutions. The center is a warm, friendly place to achieve optimal health. The Khader Center has a full online shop with an array of nutritional tools such as supplements, foods, healthy organic chocolates and holistic skin care products.