A new year always inspires optimism. For nearly 189 million Americans, this optimism is couched in a New Year’s resolution — a practice of intention and dedication to a new beginning. The custom of making new year’s resolutions may have begun as many as 4,000 years ago when the Babylonian people would ring in the new year with a renowned dedication to their gods. Today, however, New Year’s resolutions encompass an infinite number of ways that an individual wants to change or grow in a new year. Whether numbering one, two, or a dozen, an individual’s New Year’s resolutions often serve as a template for a new personal beginning.

Making your new year’s resolution

Forming your New Year’s resolution begins with understanding motivation, self-efficacy and willpower. Motivation involves the reasons why a person does what they do. Self-efficacy is the beliefs, skills and abilities one possesses to accomplish tasks. Willpower is one’s ability to delay instant gratification for a long-term goal.

At a deeper level, the unhealthy habits and thoughts we engage in elicit immediate gratification and pleasure responses in the brain. The longer we engage in these bad habits and thoughts, the harder we must fight against our emotions and stress to change them, and the more willpower we need to overcome them. This is where our motivation becomes essential. Having a good attitude and the proper skills to make your goals high, yet attainable, is essential to help you change your behavior.

Designing a SMART goal

Rather than making one big goal at the beginning of the year, make smaller goals throughout the year to ultimately accomplish the bigger New Year’s resolution. The SMART goal strategy streamlines the goal-setting process and sets you up for success. “S” stands for Specific. Simply saying “I want to lower my blood pressure” is too vague. Start with a small, yet measurable goal, such as “I want to exercise 30 minutes per day. three days per week.” This is a small enough goal to be realistic and attainable (self-efficacy). Then, make your goal relevant (what are your whys, or motivation). For instance, “I will have more energy if I am healthier.” Next, make the goal time-based. For instance, “I will exercise consistently each week between now and “x” date when I will have my blood pressure screened again.” By breaking your goal down into small and achievable segments, you are more likely to stay on track to make the change that you have set out for.

Building your new year’s resolution toolkit: Meet Tri-County Health Network’s community health workers

Do you have an idea for a resolution that is rooted in improving your health? This January, Tri-County Health Network will be holding Healthy Thursday events each week throughout Montrose, Ouray, Delta and San Miguel counties. To help you find a starting point for your goal, our community health workers can provide health screening including checks of cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose, BMI and more. At your appointment, our community health workers can also talk to you about nutrition, provide health coaching and give advice on making and keeping your New Year’s resolution.

Healthy habits start in the kitchen

Do you want to learn how to cook healthfully with a limited budget? Starting on Jan. 19, TCHNetwork will be offering a six session Cooking Matters online course that teaches you how to navigate the grocery store to find the healthiest and most affordable options, how to store food so as not to waste it, tips for healthy meals and snacking, how you can involve the family in the kitchen and so much more. Classes are one hour long, and participants receive a $10 grocery store gift card after each class, for a total of $60 to participate. Build the kitchen skills to make your New Year’s resolution a reality with this budget-friendly, engaging and personalized course taught in both English and Spanish.

Be empowered to make 2021 count

The year 2020 has been difficult in many unforeseen and unprecedented ways. While so much remains uncertain, a new year serves as the perfect opportunity to add direction and intention to your life, and Tri-County Health Network is here to help you do just that. To make an appointment for one of our Healthy Thursday events, or to register for our Cooking Matters course, call 970-708-7096 or email info@tchnetwork.org, or visit tchnetwork.org/events-and-classes/#cookingmatters.

While the challenges of 2020 will not soon be forgotten, we are all hopeful that better days are ahead.

Ruthie Boyd is the public health marketing coordinator for Tri-County Health Network.

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