You've made your keep it

January 08, 1999

resolutionsBy MEG H. PARTINGTON / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

It's one week after the start of the new year and you've had time to move those resolutions out of your head and into reality.

If you're having trouble sticking to some of your goals, don't abandon hope. You've already taken a huge step by setting your mind to something.

[cont. from lifestyle]

"The most important thing is you have to know where you want to go," says Joy Kurland, a licensed professional counselor at Allegheny Psychological Services in Martinsburg, W.Va.


Some common objectives are losing or, in some cases, gaining weight or breaking a harmful habit. Emotional goals often are set, too, including becoming a more pleasant person or opening up more to a loved one.

Regardless of the type of accomplishments you wish to obtain, make sure they're realistic, says Buck Summers, a counselor who owns Balanced Living Resources in Chambersburg, Pa. Set out to lose five to 10 pounds at first rather than 50, he says, and focus on a few things rather than many.

To lose weight successfully, don't try to give up everything you enjoy, such as beer or going out to dinner, advises Cindy Held of Hagerstown, a nutritionist licensed in Maryland and a registered dietitian. Instead, take "baby steps" by reducing the frequency with which you indulge in the foods or drinks that contribute to your excess pounds and gradually increasing healthful practices, she says.

"Insure repeatability by making it fairly easy at the beginning," says Held. That means breaking your overall goal into smaller objectives like losing or gaining a certain amount of weight each month.

Shift your focus away from food, Held says.

"Find a productive, fulfilling alternative to eating," she says, including a new hobby, reading or a class. When you've accomplished one of your smaller milestones, reward yourself with a nonfood item such as a new article of clothing or treat yourself to a movie, says Held.

Kurland recommends writing down specific goals and ranking them in order of importance.

Be specific with your goals, she says. Rather than striving to be less shy, tell yourself to make eye contact with people and be more talkative.

"The mind doesn't operate in just generalities," says Kurland.

Focus on the positives - enjoying breathing in fresh air - rather than focusing on the process of stopping smoking, Kurland says.

"We have to create in our mind an image of what we do want," Kurland says.

If kicking the nicotine habit is your goal, avoid situations that may tempt you to smoke for the first several weeks after you decide to quit, says Nell Stewart, coordinator of Stop Smoking for Life at Washington County Health Department. Give yourself a pep talk to stay strong when cigarette cravings begin or when you're surrounded by smokers.

"They have to learn how to talk to themselves," Stewart says. "It's a lot of mind control."

Smoking cessation classes and support groups are helpful, Stewart says.

Don't think of yourself as a failure if you fall off the resolution wagon, Held says. There will be highs, lows and plateaus in anyone's attempts to make life changes.

If you are trying to quit smoking and find yourself with a lighted cigarette in your mouth, put it out as soon as you can, Stewart says. Consider it a temporary slip and get right back on the path to a nonsmoking lifestyle, she says.

Designate someone you trust to hold you accountable for achieving your goals, Summers says. That person should not nag or belittle, but be supportive and occasionally ask how you are doing or if you're seeing the results you hoped for.

It may be easier to stick with resolutions if you and a loved one or friend pursue them together, Summers says. Try to surround yourself with people who will support your efforts, not tempt you into reverting to bad habits, adds Held.

Keep your ambitions in view - literally. Write them down on a piece of paper and place it on a car visor, mirror, office wall or any other place that will catch your eye, Summers says. You can also record yourself reciting positive assertions on an audiocassette tape - "I am enjoying the calm and productive atmosphere I now share with my co-workers," for instance - and play it back regularly at home or in the car, Kurland adds.

Fit your resolutions into your schedule, Summers says. If you want to exercise more, write it into your daily planner. If you strive to spend more time with your family, don't let anything get in the way.

Tell yourself, "No matter what ... I'm going to do this," Summers says.

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