How to Succeed at New Year’s Resolutions: Healthy Habits for 2019

How to Succeed at New Year’s Resolutions

We seem to have become a culture that has taken the good intentions of a fresh start in the New Year to the extreme pressure of reinventing yourself. Phrases like “New Year. New You” abound as people sell fitness and healthy-eating programs. These phrases resonate with us because – for many reasons – shedding a few pounds, eating more leafy greens, and taking care of that achy shoulder seem like valid goals.  

Indeed, those goals are valid if they are approached in ways that bring out the best in you and use your strengths, values, and knowledge of yourself to fuel the change. The science of behavior-change informs us that by understanding yourself and reflecting on the essence of who you are, you will be better able to achieve self-efficacy, or the ability to set and achieve goals.  

Why New Year’s Resolutions are set up to make you fail

As a Pilates Instructor and Wellness Coach I get frustrated by the pressure for people to “change” into a “new you,” and I regularly want to run around and tell each of you your “you” is just fine. I believe that negative health behaviors are sometimes seeded in an inability to care for ourselves. Either people don’t know how or there is some negative belief system in place. The irony is that it’s through understanding and affirming ourselves (and NOT denying who we are) that we can move toward our healthiest selves.  

The good news is that the reflective process that helps you shape your new behaviors and habits is one that will enrich your entire life. This commitment to yourself can lead you not only to new healthy habits, but toward your fullest life.  

Trust This Process: The Reflection Framework

Below is a simple framework for reflection and a few suggestions to get you started, similar to the process we use with all of our clients. You can spend a few minutes or a few days reflecting on each prompt. Grab a journal or some paper and sit with each question below.  

The initial step is to trust the process and know that by attempting to reflect on these items, you are on your way to knowing yourself better so that no matter what you choose to do moving forward, it will be with a stronger sense of self. There is no right or wrong.

  1. What does wellness mean to you? Take a minute to define this as it relates to your life.  Is it healthy in mind, body, spirit or some variation? Write out your thoughts as you think this through.  
  2. Imagine you at your best self. Take a couple minutes and close your eyes to see what that looks and feels like. Use your imagination to experience the vision of you moving through life. Write down all the details and feelings.
  3. Why?  What are your key motivators for being healthy and well?  You might think you want to look a certain way because our culture tells us that is what’s important, but try to connect to your personal why. Do you have children or grandchildren you’d like to play with? Do you want to travel? Move pain free? Live a long healthy life?  
  4. Pull your toolkit together. Write out your best experiences or what has worked well in the past as it relates to wellness. What are your character strengths and values? Your support systems?  
  5. Think about what you love to do in life. Do you love to walk outside? Garden? Dance or run? Do you have a hobby? Maybe you aren’t sure, and that is ok too.
  6. What are your barriers or challenges? We all have unique challenges in life and acknowledging them will help put them into perspective.  
  7. What are your gaps?  From where you are now to where you’d like to be in your vision of your best self. These are the goals you will work on.  
  8. Slow and steady does win the race. Choose one or two simple healthy behaviors that you feel 100% confident that you can bring into your life that will move you toward your goals. Choose things that will help you feel good and that you enjoy. Move slowly and notice how they make you feel. Whatever you choose, try to jot down a few notes each day or week about your progress. Set reminders and schedule these each day. Use your support system to check in for accountability. The key is to make these achievable, simple and small steps. This is the key to self-efficacy and setting and achieving larger goals.  

Choose Your Healthy Habits

Not sure where to start?  Below is a list evidence-based simple, healthy behaviors that can energize you, help you lose weight and get moving. Email me ( if you have questions.  

  • Start a gratitude practice – write three things you are grateful for each day before bed
  • Practice self-compassion  – cultivate an inner voice of support, just like you would for a friend
  • Start a mindfulness practice – there are several apps and online resources to help with as little as 3 minutes per day
  • Drink more water
  • Get 8 hours of sleep
  • Add one serving of fruit into your day
  • Add one serving of leafy greens into your day
  • Swap out a processed food for a whole food (i.e. sugar-filled snack with an apple and peanut butter)
  • Swap out a sugar or additive-filled drink with water or herbal tea
  • Take a 5 minute walk
  • Get up from your desk once in the morning and once in the afternoon
  • Eat your vegetables before your main meal
  • Make a doctor appointment or research an issue to help you move with ease
  • Add simple exercises into your day.  

There is no quick fix for any fitness or wellness goal, but through the process of knowing and supporting yourself, 2019 can be your best year yet.  

Elaine Economou, PMA-CPT, is a certified Pilates and GYROTONIC ™ trainer, wellness coach and President & CEO of MOVE Wellness, a local fitness and wellness studio that offers specialized training in Pilates, GYROTONIC™, and wellness coaching. She can be reached at or 734-761-2306.

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