Your New Year’s resolution probably won’t last the month.
Americans are notoriously bad at keeping those goals made on Jan. 1, according to researchers. Half of the resolutions set on Jan. 1 are history by the 31st, according to a 2013 study by a University of Scranton psychologist.
Only 8 percent of Americans meet their New Year’s goal, the study found.
So we’re five days into 2015. How are you doing?
Need help to make a real change? Here’s five tips from local experts on making your New Year’s resolutions stick.
1. Make specific goals
Loose, generic goals rarely become realized, says Lori Gardiner, a registered dietitian and author of “My Little Black Book for a Healthy Non-Diet Lifestyle.”
“It’s kind of proven,” she says. “When you say a generic goal, like ‘I’m going to lose 10 pounds’ and not really create a time frame, people don’t stick with it.
“Focus on concrete, specific things you would change to get to the goal,” she says.
For example, if you want to lose 25 pounds, cut fast food from your diet during the weekdays, or eat an extra serving of vegetables every day.
“I like a lot of little goals to lead up to the big picture,” Gardiner says.
2. Focus on the positive
Add good foods to your diet instead of subtracting calories. If you add a vegetable to your lunch or eat a salad before the main course at dinner, there’s less room for french fries, Gardiner says.
“If you focus on what you’re supposed to eat, little by little, you really don’t have room for so much unhealthy stuff,” she advises.
Diets that restrict foods rarely work long term, Gardiner says, so instead create a habit of choosing good foods.
“I really would like people to focus on the positive way of thinking,” she says.
3. Don’t try to be perfect
Most diet plans demand you follow strict guidelines — cut carbs, gorge on protein or go cold turkey on sugar. Seeking this kind of perfection is a recipe for disappointment, Gardiner says.
“That is the No. 1 reason people fail,” she says. “They have this unrealistic expectation. That has really come from the diet mentality that we’re really trying to get people away from.”
Instead of following a strict diet, Gardiner advocates learning about nutrition and figuring out when it’s OK to splurge on a plate of onion rings or étouffée.
“There are times you are going to deviate” Gardiner says. “Food and socializing — that’s part of our culture. You want people to know that’s OK. There are ways to do it in a smart way.”
4. Ask a professional
Instead of going it alone, poring over books for nutritional advice and scouring YouTube for workouts, you might want to get the advice of a nutritionist and trainer.
“There are exercise routines that are individualized and customized for each person because everyone is different, same thing with nutrition,” says Jheri Bellard Corb, a personal trainer and the health fitness specialist for Baton Rouge General.
Many health insurance programs cover sessions with registered dietitians who can listen to your goals and create a plan to help you meet them.
“Meet with them to get together a good nutritional plan, not a diet,” Corb says. “Work toward optimal health, a lifestyle change.”
5. Find an activity you enjoy
The best exercise for losing weight? The one you will actually do. The latest ab-crunching machine or expensive treadmill does you no good when it’s shoved into the corner.
Swimming and running can shred calories, but they may be too difficult when you’re starting an exercise regimen.
Try going for a walk with a friend, Corb says, or ride a bicycle. Corb finds yoga to be soothing.
“If you find a friend or you find something you can enjoy,” Corb says, “you are more likely to keep doing that and progress toward your goals versus getting bored, getting hurt or taking second priority in your life.”