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More Than a Resolution: Finding the Motivation to Keep Healthy Year Round

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Too often those well-intended New Year’s resolutions for better health have been neglected by the time the calendar flips to February. The new gym memberships that were used enthusiastically for the first few weeks of January lay unused by Valentine's Day because good health takes time, effort, and a whole lot of motivation. So how do Northeast Mississippi moms and dads manage to keep their goals throughout the entire year? The following suggestions and advice are from local parents who have discovered first-hand how to make lifestyle changes to improve their health not just for one month but throughout the year.

Set Small Goals

Resolutions tend to be on the grand scale, such as, "I want to lose 50 pounds by my beach vacation." And while there is nothing wrong with large, it helps to set small goals along the way to keep one motivated. These goals don't all have to center around weight loss, although that is the most common goal. Saltillo native Callie Stockman says, "Setting little goals on the way to a big goal is helpful." Instead, these small goals can include wanting to exercise for 20 minutes a day at least three days a week or running two miles without stopping for a break no matter how long it takes. With accomplishing small goals more frequently, the individual will be inspired to persevere for the long term.

Allow Plenty of Time

Not only should parents set realistic goals and short-term goals as well as long-term, they need to give themselves time to reach them. If they do not lose five pounds the first week of joining the gym, that does not mean they should "throw in the towel." Demi Vegas Roberts, a native of Baldwyn, didn't expect visible results until six weeks after starting her diet and exercise regime. She knew that by that point she would see results, but if she allowed herself to stop in the first few weeks, she may not have had enough time to start seeing progress. Also, since she planned on doing her diet for the long haul, she knew it was important to allow herself cheat days where she would eat extra calories with some of her favorite foods. Time plus reasonable expectations help prepare one for long-term results instead of a crash quick “fix.”

Find a Partner

Everything is easier to handle when we share it with someone else. If parents who want to get healthier find a workout partner, whether a spouse or close friend, that will make the journey easier. But if they cannot find someone whose schedule allows time to exercise together, then they can find encouragement other ways. Telling a friend about one's goals and giving each other a weekly update whether in person or even via text is effective. Another, although less personal alternative, is to join an online group. If parents cannot find a workout group online, they can even get a group of Facebook friends together who are willing to help hold each other accountable. ICC adjunct instructor and owner of her own business, Kimberly Coghlan has a built-in workout partner. She explains, "My husband and I workout year-round (cardio and weight training)." They cook at home together and exercise together. Mother of two young boys, Kyoko Okamoto, has found another type of workout partner. She says, "I've invested a little to get a personal trainer from November to get in shape," and thus she has seen quicker results with the professional help and the motivation. Whether a friend or professional, the important thing is to not try it alone.

Focus on Overall Health

Lastly, the right mindset is essential for long-term success. Instead of thinking about wanting to shed a few pounds before spring break, parents need to think about their overall health and wellness. Desiree Whitford, a mother and adventure lover shares her triumph with last year’s resolutions: "I stuck with it all 12 months last year. I was back in the gym January 1. My goals aren't temporary; they're long term. I think that is what keeps me going. I don't just want to be healthy and in shape at 31. I want to be healthy and in shape at 50." She continued by explaining that a lot of the activities she enjoyed doing required her to be in strong physical condition. Another Saltillo native, Jennifer Wolvin explains that baby steps are key when focusing on overall health. She states, "Exercise is important, but diet is even more important." And she says that if someone does not know where to start with a healthier diet, he or she should speak to a nutritionist. Overall health is more than looking appealing physically. It is about having good heart health, strength from a balanced diet, and more energy, which comes from eating the right foods.

For parents who set out to make 2017 the year that they got in better shape and adopted healthier habits, they should not despair if they did not get started in January or felt like they had already given up. Each day is a new day, and by setting manageable goals, allowing sufficient time, securing a workout buddy, and focusing on whole health, they can start achieving their New Year’s health resolutions throughout all 12 months.

 

Heather Gausline Tate is a private tutor, freelance writer, and travel agent. She lives in Guntown with her husband Logan and their two boys London (age 4) and Christian (age 1 month). She is excited about her long-term goals to be healthier this year.

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