By Cindy Hadish

Health and fitness goals often top New Year’s resolutions, but by now, many of those lofty ambitions have been abandoned.

By mid-February, 80 percent of Americans who make a resolution at the beginning of the year have already broken it, clinical psychologist Joseph Luciani writes in U.S. News & World Report.

Mr. Luciani, author of “Thin From Within: The Powerful Self-Coaching Program for Permanent Weight Loss,” offers the following suggestions for sustaining your goals:

  1. Think small. Take a look at the habits that are holding you back in life. Throughout the day, find simple challenges that you make happen.
  2. Build self-trust. In order to guarantee success, don’t challenge yourself with a pledge you’re not sure you can handle. If, for example, you’re not sure you’ll stick with going to the gym five times a week, then don’t promise yourself.
  3. Invent various challenges throughout the day to strengthen your ability to believe and to do. Like a muscle, the more you workout, the more your capacity for personal success will grow.
  4. Cultivate optimism. No one’s life is without negatives. The key is to train yourself to focus on the positives. If you’re a whiner or a complainer, make a determination to stop whining and complaining.
  5. Develop critical awareness. With awareness, you shed light on your destructive, reflexive habits and thinking and on any self-sabotaging mind games at play.

Experts offer their insight into rejuvenating your goals, to help put your resolutions back on track. (Note: This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.)

Quit smoking

Anne Malecek of CarePro Worksite Wellness, which offers a 10-week tobacco cessation program that uncovers what motivates participants to smoke and discovers the routines associated with tobacco, offers the following suggestions to help smokers quit:

  • List your top five reasons you want to quit smoking. Make several copies and post on the fridge, bathroom mirror and in your car.
  • Clean out your environment and vehicle in preparation for a smoke-free zone. Get rid of ashtrays and materials associated with tobacco. Clean linens to get rid of tobacco smell. Rearrange your furniture to steer clear of a convenient smoking chair.
  • Beat cravings through these methods: Take deep breaths, in through your mouth, out through your nose; look in a mirror and say your most important reason to quit tobacco out loud to yourself; repeat a positive mantra such as “I know I can do this.”
  • Distract yourself. Cravings last 7-10 minutes whether you use tobacco or not. Keep your hands busy (doodle, write a letter or do a crossword puzzle.)
  • Chew gum or eat a healthy snack – crunch on raw vegetables or enjoy a piece of fresh fruit.
  • Reward yourself. Indulge in a special treat (a massage or a movie, for example) with the money you’ve saved by not buying tobacco.
  • Focus your energy on today. Beat your cravings one day at a time.
  • Get up and move. Grab a drink of water, stretch, do some squats – just get your blood pumping.
  • Change your routine. Chew gum on your commute instead of using tobacco. Take a walk around the block.

Exercise more

Jane Jakobsen, personal training director at the M.A.C. in Cedar Rapids, offers the following tips for staying motivated for exercise workouts:

  • Have a plan. Don’t just make an overall goal; be specific on how you’re going to achieve it.
  • Start small. Plan to go to the gym three times per week, for example, or work out 10 minutes per day to get started. “Any time you have is worth it,” Ms. Jakobsen said. “Quality vs. quantity.”
  • Have a support system. Make an ongoing appointment with a friend, family member or personal trainer and meet that person as additional incentive to maintain a regular schedule. A trainer also can offer direction and a plan regarding which exercises to pursue.
  • Find something you love. If you like dancing, try a cardio dance class. Cyclists can try indoor cycling when the weather is bad. If you need to ease into a workout, try a low-impact aquatics class. “Find something you can have fun with,” Ms. Jakobsen said.
  • Mix it up. Vary your routine to include cardiovascular, strength, flexibility/mobility and mind-body classes, such as yoga or pilates, to balance your fitness routine.
  • Be accountable. Keep track of your progress in a way to best suit your needs, such as waistline or body fat measurements; weighing yourself on a scale; even fitting into a smaller pair of jeans. “The way you feel is most important,” Ms. Jakobsen said. “Look to be better than yesterday or the day before.”

Weight loss

According to a study by Nielsen, consumers are increasingly using technology to help them achieve their health and wellness goals. The report noted that 34 percent of Americans say they plan to use smartphone apps to help them support their weight loss objectives. Calorie trackers, which have dramatically grown in popularity over the past few years, come in a close second at 31 percent, followed by websites at 24 percent and watches with fitness capabilities at 16 percent.

Eat healthier

Cathy Gehris, dietitian at the First Avenue Hy-Vee in Iowa City, notes that according to Forbes, only 8 percent of Americans achieve their New Year’s resolutions. She offers these tips to help more people achieve their nutrition goals:

  • Balance your diet. Take a look at your daily food intake. Does it include at least a couple of servings of fruits and vegetables per day? Is it made up of sugary, processed foods that you could cut back on? Are you skipping meals?
  • Water, water, water. Focus on making the majority of your daily beverage intake water. To help increase your intake, take a clear water bottle and draw hash marks evenly spaced along the side of the bottle. Starting at the top, label each hash mark with a time of the day (i.e. 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., etc.) and use that as your hour-by-hour water intake goal.
  • Create new healthy habits. According to The Huffington Post, it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. Start slowly and after about three weeks, goals such as eating nutritional foods, can become a new healthy habit for you.


Crunchy Apple and Broccoli Slaw

From Cathy Gehris, Hy-Vee dietitian


½ cup light mayonnaise

½ cup light sour cream*

1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best)

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

1 bag broccoli slaw, 12 ounces

3 green onions, sliced

1 medium apple, cored and finely chopped

1 cup coarsely chopped English walnuts

1 package dried cranberries


In a large bowl stir together mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Stir in broccoli slaw, green onions, apples, walnuts and cranberries.

Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving to allow flavors to blend.

Serves 12 (½ cup servings)

*Non-fat Greek yogurt is a great substitute for light sour cream.

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories 170; Fat 11g (2g sat, 0g trans); Cholesterol 5mg; Sodium 160mg; Carbohydrates 19g (fiber 3g, sugar 13g); Protein 3g