New year, new goals: maintaining resolutions in February

Allison Mueller

Sara Tiradossi / Winonan

A new year means new resolutions, but people are often notorious for not sticking to these new self-promises.

Resolutions are unique for everyone, whether they are about looking for a new job, finding a new partner or starting a new health plan.

Winona State University health exercise and rehabilitative science (HERS) professor Peter Stenberg said making strict resolutions is not a beneficial approach to take because it almost inevitably leads to failing.

“I think it’s much better to think long-term resolutions,” Stenberg said. “It’s important to think of the kind of person you would like to be, the kind of health that you would like to have and the goals you would like to achieve.”

Stenberg said some people might decide to go to the gym every day as a resolution, whereas others may start going for a walk every morning or just to spend a little time by themselves to refocus.

“It really depends on the person and what they want,” Stenberg said. “I really disagree that we should give people a menu that says how to behave, because everybody is different. Everybody has different ideas about what they want to do,” Stenberg said.

HERS professor Connie Mettille said whenever anybody is making a resolution or a goal, the first thing people have to do is make sure they are obtainable. Mettille said people tend to look at something in a big picture, and the big picture does not have enough small steps along the way.

It then becomes overwhelming, and this is not a good recipe for success and behavior change.

“Behavior change takes a long time; it’s a slow process to reach the final product or the goal,” Mettille said. “Unfortunately, people don’t set obtainable goals, and that gets in their way.”

Mettille said it is good to make small changes because people can celebrate their success along the way and feel like they have accomplished something little by little.

“Honestly, the key to starting a healthier lifestyle is to start. There isn’t a magic recipe for happiness, wellbeing and optimal health,” Mettille said. “It’s a process, and people just need to start doing something they enjoy.”

Mettille said people could take up a fun activity and then add in someone to do the activity with.

“So it doesn’t become a task but it becomes an adventure,” Mettille said. “And it becomes something that both you and your friends can grow in. You can learn from your friends, and they can learn from you.”

According to Stenberg, learning can also be from a matter of age. He said people change as they get older, and their motivation may lead them to look for different resolutions because of their different experiences.

“Young people may look into finding a good job as part of their resolutions, but as people age they think of how to remain focused on the jobs they already have and retirement,” Stenberg said.

Winona State has a great deal of resources to help students remain healthy, Stenberg said, such as different ways to keep active and to learn about pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

“We have a fantastic resource of the IWC, which has a wonderful exercise facility,” Stenberg said. “This university has a lot of resources to support students with other issues that can be financial, mental health issues or just issues around things that are happening in their life.”

Mettille said what people have to do to stick to something is to integrate it into their life. She said one of the best ways for students to be consistent in working out is to schedule it in every day.

“Whatever behavior you are trying to grow toward, it needs to become a part of your life or it will be a task, and tasks are difficult,” Mettille said. “Change is not a task, it’s a process that will lead you to an end point. There has to be a gradual process of build up and if we are doing anything that’s moving you towards optimal health, then it’s a positive good thing. That’s the bottom line. Pick what works for you and do it.”