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Beware of all-or-nothing approach to resolutions


Anna Reich of Stafford County has lots of New Year’s resolutions. She said she plans to take yoga classes and watch what she eats to lower her stress level.

She also wants to learn new cross stitching and knitting patterns, and she wants to spend more time making herself and her husband happy.

She, and scores of other people, are starting out the year with the best intentions. Will those intentions stick?

“A successful resolution is one that is well-kept and worked [on] through the year,” Reich said.

Reich said she has never not kept a resolution, but for many people, staying true to promises made at the start of the year isn’t so easy.

Local dietitian Nancy Farrell said making a New Year’s intent, rather than a resolution, is a healthier way to make a change.

She said that since a resolution is a firm decision to do or to not do something, people feel that they have to deny themselves or give something up when they make one.

Missteps occur when people feel they have to deny themselves.

“This mind set of an all-or-nothing approach can set individuals up for failure as they then give up easily on their New Year’s goals,” she said.

An intention leaves a little more wiggle room. It comes with a little more flexibility, a little less pressure. If you intend to do something, you can continuing to intend to do it even if you didn’t do it on a particular day. It’s an ongoing effort and desire as opposed to a hard-and-fast resolution.

“An intention adds purpose and meaning to something that you are determined to do,” Farrell said. “Therefore, an intention is a much more positive approach.”

Farrell said an effective intent starts with setting small, realistic goals that are flexible and accountable. She recommends beginning a behavior chart for a jump-start towards better health.

She said the chart should include small goals like drinking six to eight glasses of water per day, getting seven hours of sleep, or eating a vegetable during every lunch and dinner.

“Think of changes in a positive way with an open frame of mind,” she said. “Understand how the change will improve your health and how it can add years to your life. Then try something new.”

For example, instead of snacking on buttered popcorn, Farrell recommends steamed and lightly seasoned edamame for a filling high protein, low fat alternative.

Garrett Green, who owns Green Fitness in Fredericksburg, also said that small, achievable goals are the ones people are most likely to accomplish.

“In my classes I tell people to pick goals and then resolve more later,” he said. “You need to reevaluate fitness every three months.”

He said an effective goal would be to walk two days instead of one, or add another day of cardio into a weekly workout.

He said the busiest time at his private studio is in February, after people have tried the gym and realize their goals were not attainable or that they need guidance.

Even Green said he needs to set fitness goals for himself in the New Year.

“I had a professor in college who said that the worst shape you’ll be in is as a personal trainer,” he said. “And he was right.”

Green said he sometimes drops the ball on his own exercise efforts because he’s busy training other people, so he’s intending to squeeze in a few more workouts each week this year.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976