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Keepin' Your Resolutions Real

According to FiveThirtyEight.com, 44% of Americans made resolutions in 2015, and the seven most common resolutions to make revolved around losing weight, exercising more, being a better person, improving health, smoking cessation, spending less and saving more, and eating healthier. Those are some big goals, and it’s important to have a plan of action to go along with those very desirable wishes. Without a strategy, many resolutions fall to the wayside. The same statistics blog also reported that close to 30% of those who make resolutions drop them within the first two weeks of making them, and more than half abandon their resolutions within six months’ time.

We hope that you will make the Co-op part of your resolution keeping plan, whether it’s by finding the foods and products you want to support your goals, or whether it’s learning how to make your food budget go a little further. To help, we’ve asked our nutrition consultant Katy Wallace, Naturopath at Human Nature LLC; and Debra Lafler, Wellness Coordinator for Group Health Cooperative, for some helpful tips.

Be Specific
Katy says, “Most people do well when they can focus on the specific step that needs to happen to accomplish a goal. Go beyond ‘I want to eat better’ to ‘I’m going to make an omelet for breakfast instead of picking up a coffee on the way to work’ or ‘I’m going to eat fresh vegetables for snacks instead of a bakery item’ or ‘I’m going to eat a dark leafy green everyday.’” By being specific, you can take the loftier wish to eat better and turn it into something tangible to work on.

Debra agrees that being specific makes a difference. “Break big goals down to smaller goals, or objectives to meet, such as: ‘I want to eat three veggies a day’ or ‘I want to replace my soda with water’ or ‘I want to switch from white bread to whole grain bread.’ Whenever we have a goal, we have to think to ourselves, is this measurable in someway? How will I know when I achieve this goal? And how can I get there? What are the things I need to do to get there?”

For some of us, eating better means spending smarter. Maybe we do eat well, and we’re breaking the bank. For this goal, it may help to get specific about what kinds of deals you will shop for. Resolving to get Owner Rewards notices emailed to you weekly, and deciding that “five items on my grocery list will be Owner Rewards” might help, or maybe making your list when you read the Co-op Deals in the Reader will make the difference.

Practical, Positive, and Personal
Once you’ve picked a specific goal, time and energy needs to be planned for achieving that goal. Katy recommends “Having time to accomplish our personal goals is a major limitation for most people. If your goal is to eat more vegetables for snacks then set aside time to add them to your grocery list, shop, and prepare them. If necessary, actually write in extra time in your schedule at first to allow time for making a menu and grocery list until it becomes habitual.” Breaking down your goals into smaller parts can help too. Katy says “Pick goals that are achievable: Rather than ‘I want to lose 10 pounds,’ break it down to ‘I want to lose 1/2 pound per week.’”

Debra also suggests using a positive mindset to keep motivated. “If you say that you SHOULD eat better, this tells me that the reason for you wanting to change is from an outside perspective. A doctor, parent, spouse, or general society. The funny thing about human behavior is that if we see it as a SHOULD, we resist it. This is usually subconscious, but it affects our motivation. If and when we can change our ‘I should’ to ‘I want to’ or ‘I get to’ then we do things. Think of it like this, if you heard someone say ‘I should go to the gym today,’ versus ‘I want to go to the gym today,’ or even better ‘I get to go to thegym today!’ Which one sounds like the person is going to do it?”
Taking the time to plan for your resolution, and then getting excited to do it can really go a long way towards sticking to your goal. It also gives you a reason to take personal time for yourself, which is always important for reflecting on how to change our ways. Katy finds the mornings to be the time that works for her: “Do things in the morning before the pressures of the day are in motion. To work towards personal health goals, it can help to get up earlier. The early morning time can allow for meditation, breathing exercises, a brisk walk and time to prepare your meals for the day. It doesn’t have to be the morning but for many people it is a huge step to make time for oneself during the day whenever that is.”

Face Fears and Practice
Change is hard to make overnight—there will be ups and downs, and that can be scary or overwhelming. As Debra says, “Sometimes our fears hold us back from change. We fear that we don’t know how to change, or what to do, or that we’ll mess it up, or fail in some way. But the truth is that all goals are like this. Everything we do, we have to start somewhere. And every step we take is a risk. Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we fail. But every failure is a learning lesson. Everything, and I mean everything, teaches us what to do, or what not to do. Think of behavior change like learning to ride a bike. How do you do it? Get on the bike and just start to practice! And practice makes perfect! You will feel frustrated at times. You will fall. You will doubt your ability. But if you keep with it, soon you will be riding smoothly….even with no hands!”
Mona Chalabi from FiveThirtyEight.com suggests, “If you want to change your life and change it for good, then my advice would be if at first you don’t succeed, don’t try and try again each January. Just keep trying whenever you can.”

Get Social and Get Educated
Tell your friends about your resolutions so that they can support you in them, or maybe even join you in the cause! Or, use your resolution to make new friends who share your goals. Whether it’s through friends or online support groups or reading self-help books, sharing ideas and getting educated around your goals can go a long way towards making your resolutions reality. From Katy, “Surround yourself with people who have the habits and values you are working towards. Research tells us that we adopt the habits and activities of the people with whom we spend the most time. Try to nurture or establish relationships with people who can relate to what you are trying to accomplish. If you can’t find good company, then sometimes it is best to spend more time alone perhaps with supportive books and inspirational reading until you either feel stronger in your new habit or can find better company.”

One great way to work on your goals, make friends, and get educated is to take classes. We offer classes all year round to help you with your goals. Some of those classes are free, and some require a registration fee. All of them are opportunities to get to know the people at the Co-op, both shoppers and staff, better. Getting to know each other is how we can provide support together, and that’s what being a part of a cooperative is all about. So, whether you want to learn more about eating healthy on a budget, how to make your food dollars go further, how to preserve seasonal produce, how to shop the bulk aisle, how to improve your knife skills or more, we have classes geared for your goals. Check out our Community Room Calendar in the Reader or on our website at www.willystreet.coop/events. If you’re looking to work on nutrition goals, consider registering for one of Katy’s Nutrition Consultations, offered monthly at both of our locations. You can find out more about how to register for those sessions on our Community Room Calendar too.

Happy NewYear!
From all of us at the Co-op, we wish you well in achieving all your goals this 2016. If you have any questions about products and services that can help you make your resolutions real, practical, and achievable, please ask us in the store! We will be happy to see what we can do for you.

Special thanks to Katy Wallace and Debra Lafler for continuing to offer nutrition and wellness guidance to our Owners and staff. Learn more about Katy at www.humannaturellc.com and Debra at hwm.wisconsin.edu/faculty/debra-lafler/.

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