Contributed by Hy U.

The most popular New Year’s Resolution is to get in shape and lose weight.  Yet every year the pounds seem to stack up instead of fall off.  You start off strong, excited and full of pep, but then a month later it all gets dull and we drop our resolution.  Why do we fail? Usually because our goals are vague and unrealistic.  If you repeatedly make the same goal and you haven’t achieved it yet, you probably haven’t set the right steps to achieve your goal.

Losing Weight/Gaining Muscle. So you are a size 16 and want to be a size two.  This goal might be too big for one year. What if you set a smaller goal such as 2 dress sizes down?  In order to achieve this goal, you need to burn more calories than you ingest.  There are lots of tools to help you track how many calories you ingest and tools to help you track calorie burn.  If you want to lose a pound a week you need to burn an extra 500 calories a day.  By using weight training as part of your workout routine, you can be sure you will be losing fat and not muscle.

Eat Healthy. This is another vague goal. What does ‘eat healthy’ mean?  I know I have read story after story about eating healthy—eat this fruit, take this supplement, eat less red meat, and so on.  It can be very confusing.  Even with all the information out there, this goal is a lot simpler than we tend to think.  You do not need to radically alter your diet and start eating the latest trend.  Take small simple measurable steps. For example:

  • Drink more water.  Get a reusable bottle that holds 16 oz.  Put four rubber bands on the container.  As you finish the bottle and refill it move one rubber band up.  If you finish four refills, you did it!
  • Switch to whole wheat bread (without added sugar) to replace white bread.
  • Pack a fruit you enjoy eating as a snack for lunch.
  • Get up and do some exercises during the commercial breaks on TV.
  • Pace or do squats while you are on the phone.
  • Stretch at your desk.
  • Stop typing and bend over to touch your toes.

If you set realistic goals and take small steps, you will be able to achieve your New Year’s Resolutions.  To bolster your resolve, here are five tips to help keep you on track with your resolutions in 2012 and beyond!