GETTING REAL - With New Year's Resolutions
By Candice Russell / December 1, 2015

It's natural to make New Year's resolutions. The end of the year is a time for self-reflection and goal setting for the next twelve months.

But the resolutions we make in earnest in December are usually hobbled by failure or forgotten by February. Why are they so hard to keep?

The problem is that most resolutions are either vague or general, such as "lose weight" or "save money" or "be nicer." Who doesn't want to be thinner, richer and kinder? But without an action plan, resolutions remain wishes, year after year. Or maybe you were never serious about the topic in the first place.

Trying to lose weight realistically? Many people get overwhelmed by completely overturning their usual habits of food and drink consumption. In a few days or weeks, they are either starving or feeling deprived, which leads to over-indulgence and an easy excuse to forget about losing weight until next year.
GETTING REAL - With New Year's Resolutions

Start with a vigorous and regular exercise plan with a personal trainer to make you accountable, a gym membership, or, if you're self-motivated, a walking program which takes no more than the right shoes, sunscreen, and commitment. Adhere to a routine for two weeks and you will notice a reduction in weight. You will feel better and have a stronger motivation to change what you eat. Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds in your diet. Cut out white sugar (cookies, cakes, and pies) and processed food snacks. Eat lightly rather than gorging yourself.

Another way to stay on track in losing weight is to abandon bad habits and add good ones. If you normally get a mocha frappucino and donut every Wednesday at Starbuck's, make a substitution for your indulgence with twelve walnuts and green iced tea. Supplant ice cream with sherbet, frozen yogurt or a fruit smoothie.

If saving money is your resolution, be practical without getting a second job. A money reporter on National Public Radio recounted an experiment he tried with good results. He and his fiancée wanted to save for their wedding. They paid cash for everything in one year and when they received a five-dollar bill in change, they banked it at home in an empty coffee tin. It was an easy habit to follow. After a year, the couple found that they had easily accumulated more than $5,000.

Of course, you can do the same thing with bills of lesser or greater denominations. See how much you can accumulate rather painlessly in a short period of time.

If you have a specific goal in mind, it is a further spur to save money. Keep motivated by thinking of the reward at the end of your saving - a new car, a trip to Asia, a birthday party at a favorite restaurant, or funding your child's first year of college.

The third popular New Year's resolution is "be nicer." Try a few simple things. If the person in front of you at the grocery store is short on funds, step up and pay the difference.

Do you have an older person in your neighborhood or a relative ho lives alone? Either telephone that person or knock on his/her door with a plate of cookies and pay a short visit. Caring gestures like this mean a lot.

Be nicer by smiling more. Pay genuine compliments to loved ones and co-workers. Plan to volunteer at an animal shelter or homeless shelter at least once a month.

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