Sure, sure, you’re going to eat better, sleep more and hit the gym five times a week in 2015.
Except, the professionals who study behavior change have bit of bad news for you: Your well-intentioned New Year’s resolution probably won’t last very long.
Think small, not big. That’s the advice from psychiatric nurse Sarah Seabrook-DeJong. She helps patients at the Inspira Health Center in Bridgeton, New Jersey.
The fundamentals of behavior change are the same whether you are trying to take your medication more consistently, lose weight, or kick a smoking habit, she said.
Swearing off chocolate for a whole year is not realistic, she says. “Maybe try to say I’m only going to eat something on the weekends. It’s an awareness almost. I think that’s a healthy thing. New Year’s resolutions seem to be all or nothing,” Seabrook-DeJong said.
She spends time trying to uncover the motivation behind unhealthy habits.
“So, what kind of problems do you have because you are overweight? Are you having health issues, is it a self-esteem issues? Are you feeling like you aren’t really in control. Is it a coping skill?” she said.
Once you pick a healthier habit, Seabrook-DeJong says it’s helpful to link that new goal to something that’s already a routine in your life — such as brushing your teeth.
Rutgers University psychologist Charlotte Markey, author of the new book “Smart People Don’t Diet” says most New Year’s pledges fail within just a few weeks.
“It’s this sort of sudden decision to make a big change, and that makes feel real really good initially. But the problem is we can’t do that. Are you going to drop five pounds? Nope,” she said.
Shedding a few pounds, slowly, is more likely to succeed, Markey said.