7 tips to keep your resolutions

MAKE A LIST: Making your resolutions easy is the key to making them doable, experts say.
MAKE A LIST: Making your resolutions easy is the key to making them doable, experts say.

Ambitious New Zealanders are putting down the cake and stepping up the exercise as part of their New Year's resolutions, but most are doomed to fail by February.

That is when the body's urge for chocolate or a cigarette over-rides the mental goal of being healthy.

Personal health coach Linda Wells said the willpower to stick to your New Year's resolutions has been found to wane by just day 18.

"If you're relying on willpower, your body is going to beat you," she said.

Wells, who runs coaching service Outcomes Unlimited, said people often fail because they try to take too big a step too quickly or rely on just willpower.

Instead, people need to focus on changing the way they think about life goals.

Write down the benefits of your resolutions, take small steps rather than leaps and make sure you have support, she said.

Weight loss company Jenny Craig also offered some tips for keeping to those resolutions:

1. Be realistic

Focus on one resolution and break that down into mini-resolutions, such as "I'm going to lose 5kg" or "I'm going to have [just] two alcohol days per week."

2. Make them enjoyable goals

Make them something you really want to do. You'll get the health benefits without really trying. Do the walking or cycling track you've always wanted to, learn to salsa or learn to meditate.

3. Make them positive goals

Instead of saying "I'm cutting out fat and sugar", say "I'm going to fill half my plate with vegetables/salads every night".

4. Include pleasure within the pain

Try to give up smoking but book into a health spa retreat, and do the detox and pampering at the same time.  Or promise to walk for at least 30 minutes most days of the week - then buy yourself a puppy who will need walking.

5. Do it with a friend

Build a supportive network around you as it's easier to commit to something if you have support and it's often more enjoyable. Choose a friend who shares your passion for healthy cooking classes or go to pilates with a friend.

6. Avoid previous resolutions

Deciding to re-visit a past resolution sets you up for frustration and disappointment.  Try to change it slightly and focus on another aspect.

7. Focus on the benefits

Regularly remind yourself of the benefits associated with achieving your goals by creating a checklist of how life would be better once you obtain your aim. For example, I feel more alert and happy with less weight.

Fairfax Media