New Year’s resolutions may be more procrastination than motivation

Mon Dec 29, 2014 10:30am EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - People seeking to get or stay fit in 2015 might do better to start today rather than rely on a New Year’s resolution to shape up tomorrow, fitness experts say.

Losing weight and getting fit and healthy are among the top five resolutions every year, even though most of winter’s great expectations wither by spring.

“The New Year’s resolution is a kind of grand, glorified, long-term goal that people, for societal reasons, tend to begin on the first day of the calendar year,” said Gregory Chertok, a sports psychology consultant with the American College of Sports Medicine.

Goals set because people feel they should make them tend to be pressure-filled, unrealistic and less likely to be accomplished, he says.

“‘I’d like to cut down on junk food a little bit,’ is a goal more likely to be accomplished than ‘I’ll completely revamp my lifestyle,’ which is the kind of goal we set as a New Year’s resolutions,” Chertok said.

While about 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, only about 8 percent succeed, according to a University of Scranton study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Dr. Michele Olson, professor of exercise science at Auburn University Montgomery said a resolution can be a way of putting off what can be done today.

“If there is a fitness need, such as to increase strength or decrease body fat, I say, ‘Let’s make a plan now,’” Olson said, adding that what is essential is to set a long-term plan with short-term goals.   Continued...

The New Year's Eve "15" numerals stand lit on the sidewalk after they were unloaded from a truck in Times Square in New York, December 16, 2014.  REUTERS/Mike Segar