Keeping your resolve for your new year’s resolutions

When Elizabeth Dixon started a blog to help people carry out their new year’s resolutions, she decided against a Jan. 1 launch date.

Instead, she wanted to wait until that time when even the best-intentioned resolution makers start to slip up, get frustrated — even throw in the towel.

That time is about now.

“We have big lofty dreams, and it might be attainable, but we have to do it one step at a time, and it can take time,” said Dixon, who is the wellness director at Chick-fil-A but said her new blog (www.biteanelephant.com) is a personal undertaking and open to the general public. “I want to help people stay on track, and right about now is when people are like, ‘Ohhh, I don’t know about this,’ and they can get discouraged.”

Dixon’s blog will offer tips for a range of goals, including weight loss, better marriages and becoming debt-free.

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The annual ritual of a list of goals on a slip of paper doesn’t face strong odds of success. In fact, 88 percent of all resolutions end in failure, or at least that’s what a 2007 survey of more than 3,000 people conducted by British psychologist Richard Wiseman found, according to published reports.

Experts say we often set ourselves up for failure by zooming in on big, lofty goals without a step-by-step plan for achievement. Can you go from couch potato to running a half-marathon in a couple of weeks? Probably not, but you can walk a little bit farther than you did the day before.

At the same time, it may be hard to overhaul your entire diet overnight, but you can take small steps toward a healthier diet, such as drinking water instead of soft drinks, and incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Dixon suggests reducing portion size as a good first step toward losing weight.

Experts say it’s important to remember changes, even good ones like going to the gym, don’t necessarily feel good right away. It takes time — at least 21 days. That’s about how long experts believe it takes to change a habit.

In other words, patience is the key.

“Someone may say on Jan. 1, I want to lose 20 pounds, and by Jan. 15, they are down 2 pounds and it may seem so daunting, but really, they are on the right track,” said Dixon, who lives in Hampton.

Wendy Ellin, an Atlanta-based workplace productivity consultant and author of the new book “Enough Is Enough, Get Control of Your Stuff,” recommends people struggling with their new year’s resolutions keep a daily log to track progress.

Expect slip-ups, she said, adding that it’s inevitable.

“So what, you slipped up. You can decide tomorrow is a new day, and you can make a conscious effort to have a better day … I lost 23 pounds. Am I perfect? No. Do I eat white sugar and white flour? Yes, but I don’t do it that often,” Ellin said.

For Isha Edwards, 40, meeting new year’s resolutions is all about getting in the right mindset. For her, that begins with calling them goals — and not resolutions — and avoiding the first of the year for getting things started.

She also likes to give her goals fun names such as “30 day spend fast” to describe her money-saving plan. She took on the money-saving goal last September to boost her savings. For one month, she fought the temptation to buy new items for her wardrobe.

The Atlanta marketing consultant still made her weekly trips to clothing stores, including her favorite — Loehmann’s. But for one month, Edwards only looked at merchandise. She passed on what seemed like the perfect shoes and the perfect accessories. By the end of the month, she boosted her checking account by $500.

Edwards feels like she not only met her goal for September, but has seen a lasting impact.

“A lot of times, I live in the moment,” Edwards said. “And I learned how to go into a mall and not spend any money. During that month, I built up my willpower.”

Edwards hopes to soon go on a vacation to Italy, and she said, she’ll have enough saved up to pay for the entire trip — before she goes.

Meanwhile, she’s just started a new goal for the year: learning Italian.

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