Be SMART this New Year

After a holiday season of indulging in the tastier treats, hosting parties and wrapping presents, many people are looking forward to a new start in 2018. In come the New Year’s resolutions.

“Forty-five percent of Americans make resolutions,” said Buffy Basile, EPIC Fitness by Buffy studio owner. “Eight percent keep them.”

So how can people become more successful with their promises to themselves that this year they will be better?

That comes from being SMART, said Kate McKernan Patetta, program coordinator at UPMC Susquehanna Health Diabetes & Nutrition Care Center.

SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and realistic and time based, she said.

Deciding that 2018 is your year to become healthy wouldn’t be considered a SMART goal because it doesn’t follow the guidelines. Instead, find specific ways to be healthier.

“Lack of time is often one of the biggest challenges in adopting healthful habits,” McKernan Patetta said. “Everyone’s time is valuable and some days there doesn’t seem to be enough. Simple changes and little tricks can help you make the most of your time and still make time for healthy, home-cooked meals. For example, try using a slow cooker for two to three meals a week or substitute television time for food and meal preparation time.”

Healthy eating is about behavioral changes.

“Focus on one to two of the following behavior changes: eat breakfast; increase portions of fruit and vegetables; decrease portions of fried, greasy, high carb foods and sweets; replace sweetened coffee drinks, juice drinks, sweet tea and regular soda with water and unsweetened drinks; replace emotional eating with planned time for a hobby, a phone call to a friend or relative, volunteering your time, house cleaning, etc,” McKernan Patetta said.

Another tip includes focusing on health, not weight, in the new year.

“Interest in nutrition and diet ebbs and flows throughout the year,” McKernan Patetta said. “For many people, the holidays tend to be a time when we enjoy and indulge. We think we will just start fresh in the New Year. That’s why nutrition and diet tend to be hot topics this time of year. Companies know this and try to tap into the customers who look to take advantage of promotions and offers to get back on board with overall health and nutrition via their New Year’s resolutions.”

Her last tip is to seek help.

“Find someone to hold you accountable,” McKernan Patetta said. “This can be a registered dietitian, behavior therapist, health and wellness educator or other health professional that has experience in working with individuals who desire health and wellness behavior change.”

Another popular resolution is getting back into shape. Drive by any gym’s parking lot in the new year and it will be a lot fuller than it will be a few weeks later.

One of the biggest failures from resolutions such as those comes from people finding a workout plan on the internet or on a phone app that doesn’t have any sort of professional guidance, Basile said.

One such app is Couch to 5K, where users with no running experience continually increase their endurance by running three times a week so that, by the end, they are able to run 3.1 miles. However, before they reach the SMART goal of running a 5K, they could end up with stress fractures or plantar fasciitis, which occurs when the band of tissue that supports the arch of your foot becomes inflamed, causing pain on the bottom of the heel, she said.

However, that doesn’t mean don’t run as a means to get healthier.

“God created you to move forward, not backward,” Basile said.

Resolutions began back in Babylonian times as a way for people to sustain life, which is something she thinks people should consider when making resolutions.

“Resolve conflict,” Basile said. “Bring peace with one single thing, one decision, no matter what it is — physical, emotional or mental. Take one step forward. It needs to be one action step. It starts with a thought. We all have that one thought.”

In the example of running a marathon, she said find one that looks amazing and sign up for it.

“If you take one step forward, God, the universe, Buddha, whatever you believe in, he’ll take that next step. But only one.”

Many people fail at resolutions because they make one large goal for the whole year.

“No wonder we all fail,” Basile said. “Take little, tiny, mindful steps. There’s lots in the middle.”

While New Year’s is a time many people resolve to eat healthier and workout more, some people are looking for organization in their lives.

Kim Hayes, owner of Organizing by Kim, in Williamsport, said January and February are her busiest times of the year because getting organized is one of the top resolutions.

“Most of the time, getting started is the hard part,” Hayes said. “People have to decide that they really would rather have an organized home than hang on to all the clutter. Once the decision is made, they have to stick to it.”

One of the ways to be successful is hiring a professional organizer because it provides a source of accountability and direction, and it sets a timeline for progress rather than allowing an ‘I’ll get to that someday’ attitude, Hayes said.

Getting organized is more than just doing it once though.

“It really is a lifestyle change,” Hayes said. “Houses become cluttered and disorganized because of old habits and emotional attachment. For many people, it is not as simple as just cleaning up. Getting organized can be a stressful process, especially if someone tries to tackle it alone, but the payoff is worth it.”

So what will your SMART goal be next year?