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University of Florida

UF/IFAS Extension Specialist: Time to keep those New Year’s resolutions

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Finances, IFAS, Nutrition

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It’s almost a new year, another chance to make resolutions. But will they stick this time? Or will you see your determination peter out by February?

An Extension specialist with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences offers tips on how you can develop good habits and keep those New Year resolutions. “It can be tough to start a new habit, and there are a lot of things that can get in the way. Change is not easy, and sometimes we’re just not ready,” says Heidi Radunovich, associate professor, human development specialist, and UF/IFAS Extension program director for UF Engagement. She offers a few suggestions for success:

  • Work on getting the resources you need. For example, you want to exercise regularly, but you can’t afford a gym membership. Schedule regular walks, use community facilities, or buy some used and/or inexpensive equipment or videos.
  • Think carefully about attitude. We have to believe that we are capable of making the change. It can be hard to stick with something if we don’t truly believe we are capable, or even if we have doubts. Make sure to give yourself a pep talk and search for examples of others who have been successful.

  • Reward yourself for the new behavior.  Whether we realize it or not, there are usually positive consequences for engaging in an undesired behavior. How can we minimize those, and find new ways to reward ourselves for engaging in the new behavior? For example, what can I do to reward myself for having a better diet? A long bath, watch Netflix, or a “cheat” day to eat a goodie. It’s also important to consider cues in the environment to either engage in or not engage in a behavior. For instance, keeping junk food out of your house will be important, because just seeing those foods can trigger you.
  • Form a social support group. If all of your friends are engaging in a particular behavior that you are trying to change, hanging out with them can make it tough to change. Find people to socialize with who engage in the habits you want to develop. You tend to behave the way others around you behave.
  • Make small changes that are practical for you. You are more likely to make lasting changes if you tackle a little bit at a time. So rather than giving up all sugar and only eating fruits and vegetables, you can reduce the sugar gradually, and increase the fruits and vegetables over time. This makes the change more bearable. It also helps to focus on only one thing at a time – changing your diet, adding in exercise, working on your finances, and giving up smoking all at the same time would be great, but it’s better to focus on one at a time, starting with the biggest priority.
  • Goal setting, monitoring progress, and rewarding success increase the likelihood of success. Setting daily and weekly goals can help you make progress, and just seeing how well you are doing by monitoring your progress can be rewarding and help you succeed. But as mentioned earlier, it also helps to have a reward to work toward.
  • Have a plan, but also anticipate relapse. Given how hard change is, it is pretty common for people to fall back into their old ways. But don’t panic, this is normal! In fact, plan for this, and make sure you get back to your new habits as quickly as possible.

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

Source: Heidi Radunovich, 352-273-3534, hliss@ufl.edu

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