Why can't I keep my New Year's resolution?

Robert DeVito
It is resolution time. For many, that means another attempt at exercising or a another diet. Although this article focuses primarily on weight loss, be sure to utilize these steps for every resolution.

Losing weight is simple; it is just not easy. When the question arises it could be reframed to "How do I lose weight and keep it off"? I am certain that you have lost weight before and regained it, so here are tips to modify your THINKING for long-term success.

5 tips to break your failure cycle:

Get Specific. Avoid "vague" goals. Weight loss is a poor goal. It is general and lacks focus. The more specific you are with your goals, the more likely you will reach them. How much weight? What is your time frame for reaching these milestones? What are you willing to do to achieve these results?

Focus on what you are gaining, not on what you are giving up. If you are focused on restricting from your life and view improving fitness levels as a chore or you are focused on eliminating foods, how long do you think you will have the willpower to hold out? A better strategy is to list out all of the things you will gain by making changes to your habits. Improved energy and self-confidence would most likely happen first. Self-pride and the ability to stick with your goals and plans would follow.

Get into the process and out of the outcome. Change takes time. Be patient. No one makes a decision and magically changes. Everyone makes mistakes. Understand that a mistake is not the end. Get right back on track and get going.

Improved fitness and reduced weight of any substantial sum is most likely a 12-18 month process. There will be plateaus and setbacks. How you plan for and deal with these setbacks will make all of the difference. You WILL NOT experience smooth sailing. And, if you do, you will not maintain it for long.

Focus on your schedule. If you schedule it, you will do it. For many people, sticking to a schedule is difficult. The habit of procrastination sets in and "The Tomorrow Syndrome" becomes a rally cry. If you will always start tomorrow and justify your lack of commitment to your health and goals you will never reach those goals. Schedule your exercise and stick to your schedule. Make Fitness a non-negotiable priority.

Avoid "All or None" thinking. Focus on progress, not perfection. If you are moving more than you have been before and eating better than you have, then you are making progress! Congratulate yourself. 
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Everyone makes New Year's resolutions to breaking bad habits, but not very many succeed. In this video, Dr. Oz discusses what often stands in the way of making those changes.


New Years resolutions are designed for failure. People generally take everything they can think of that made them unhappy the previous year and resolute that all of those things are going to be different in the new year.


Instead of having goals once a year try having goals year around. This way you feel like you are always working toward something and aren't overwhelmed at the notion of big, huge goals once a year.


In setting those goals is great to have long term goals that might take you a year to reach but set short term, small, realistic goals throughout the year toward reaching your long term goals. As you reach your short term goals you build confidence and self esteem. This motivation will help you strive toward reaching your long term goal.


Remember it's ok to have long term goals but have short term goals that help you get there. Don't forget to make all your goals realistic and be flexible if you need to change them.

New Year’s resolutions are based on hopes of changing aspects of our lives that we want to improve. Then the hype runs out after a couple of months and we are back to where we started. It is important to understand it takes a lot of work to make changes in our lives. In order to be successful, break the large goal into smaller achievable chunks. This way success is achieved along the journey.

One long-term realistic goal is to improve your health. This is very general and in order to get there it will involve changing eating habits and including or increasing exercise. These two aspects can be broken down into smaller chucks.

Exercise -- A smaller goal could be to exercise 3-5 times week. Once this becomes a habit, increase the intensity or try a new workout. Let’s say your goal is to run a half-mile without stopping. Once this is reached, increase the goal to running 1 mile without stopping. Before you know it you’ll be running a 5K (3.2 miles)!

Eating habits -- A nutritional goal could be to find healthy substitutes for the boxed and canned food in the pantry. Read labels, and experiment with different food options. Change 1 food item at a time and soon you will be well on your way to improved health, one baby step at a time. Another small change would be to reduce the amount of red meat that is eaten each week or to add fish once a week.

Any goal can be reached if it is broken down into smaller, achievable steps. This can be very difficult at first, so find a personal trainer/fitness expert to help you get started. Improved health does not happen overnight and getting the right guidance from the start will increase the reality of staying committed to reaching your goals.
Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics

It is hard to keep New Year's resolutions! Change of any kind is difficult. In order to be successful, the more specific you are the better. It is not enough to say you will make sweeping changes. You have to break those changes down into outcomes and specific actions. For instance just saying you want to lose weight will not be helpful unless you differentiate the exact steps you will take. You can limit carbohydrate servings to four servings a day; you can exercise at the gym or take a class five days a week; take the stairs at work. The more specific you are in your actions the more likely you will be to keep your resolutions. Wishing and hoping do not work. Keeping resolutions takes planning, execution, and constant vigilance and continued motivation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.