DAYTON — It’s easy to make a New Year’s resolution. Keeping it, well, that’s another thing.
Natalie Fuller, a registered dietitian and clinical nutrition manager at Miami Valley Hospital, knows this firsthand.
Her 2011 resolution was to run a half marathon.
“By Jan. 31, I gave it up,” Fuller said. “I did OK for just a month.”
The statistics weren’t exactly on her side.
Nearly half of Americans make resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking, spend more time with family members or otherwise change their lives, according to a 2002 study led by John Norcross, a psychology professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.
About 46 percent of resolvers keep it up for six months, the study found. Only about 19 percent of people keep resolutions for two years.
Fuller said she hasn’t given up on her half-marathon dream and will try again the upcoming year. She said she knows where she went wrong. This time she will keep up with the daily training.
New Year’s resolutions are hard to maintain, but they are not a bad thing, Fuller said.
The issue is that people set goals too high.
“They get overwhelmed, they get discouraged and they let them (resolutions) go by the wayside,” Fuller said.
She recommends setting smaller goals that lead to improvements and building on them. For instance, instead of going cold turkey on your 500-calorie twice-a-day coffee drink, Fuller recommends reducing the times a week you indulge yourself or cutting out one of the two daily coffees.
Small and gradual changes can make a big difference over time, she said.
“It is very hard to give up everything you are used to doing (at once),” Fuller said.
Darlene Reid, YMCA of Greater Dayton senior health and wellness director, said it is critical to set attainable goals.
“If we find that we are setting the same goal every year, that’s a problem,” she said. “You have to figure out what is the right formula. What went wrong the last time you set that goal?”
She recommends creating a path to success, rather than just making a resolution alone.
“It’s about doing a little research and finding out how others make it,” she said. “If you make a promise to yourself... (you can do it).”
No matter the resolution, Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley Director Peggy Seboldt said resolvers should remember that they are human and make human mistakes.
“You have to accept the fact that you might have some failures. You might hit a challenge or barrier,” she said.
“That’s OK. It doesn’t mean you have to give up the goal. Be kind to yourself and move forward on your resolution.”