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Wednesday, March 14, 2012 • Posted March 14, 2012

It’s extremely common—you make a new year’s resolution and by March, you’ve given up.

Sound familiar? Instead of losing sight of healthy eating and exercise goals, try these tips to help you keep your resolution year round:

* Be flexible. Don’t think of things as being black and white. Making a pledge to avoid sweets might seem like a grand idea, but you’re likely setting yourself up for failure. Instead, set a goal to limit treats to a couple each week. This approach echoes the latest USDA MyPlate message: “Enjoy food, but less of it.”

* Be reasonable. Transformations take time, but even small changes can make big differences if you’re in it for the long haul. Try taking the stairs when possible, parking in the back of the parking lot and swapping for lower-calorie versions of your favorite foods. For instance, you can use yogurt in place of mayonnaise in many recipes. It is more motivational to reach what you’ve set out to do, so make short-term goals and reward yourself for meeting them—but not with food. Then once you’ve met a goal, alter it to make it more challenging. Or try “tackling” something new every week!

* Share your resolution. Tell your friends and family about your resolution or team up with a friend who shares your goals. Either way, this will help keep you accountable and provide needed support. And don’t forget about the power of competition!

And what about other resolutions? It’s been on my mind lately that there may be more people than normal trying to quit tobacco this year, as many insurance companies are starting to charge a higher premium for tobacco users. What better time to quit than now- you’ll save money both on premiums and the products themselves, plus the future costs of health problems! I thought I’d share some of the websites I thought might be helpful in your journey to quit:

www.quitsmokeless.org : A website made for by and for smokeless tobacco users. It has a great no-nonsense feel and is much less clinical feeling than the other options. It has a lot of articles written by people who have and/or are trying to quit about what it’s really like and what really works.

www.KillTheCan.org : pretty similar to quitsmokeless.org- I especially liked the article “The top 100 benefits of quitting dip”. These sites really tell it like it is!

Of course, any of the sites that are .gov (and of course any Extension websites) you can count on to have accurate, research based information. Whether you are trying to quit cold turkey or cutting back first, there are lots of helpful resources out there. Use the internet and/or call helplines and talk to a real person. Research shows that getting help, especially from friends and family, will make a big difference in your success. Set a “quit date” and stick to it. I also just learned that you really need to take care and not skip meals (you might even drink 100% fruit juice all day) during the first 3 days while you are trying to quit, so you don’t have low blood sugar while you are facing powerful cravings. And if you are not successful the first time, don’t give up, try, try again!

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