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Don't eat your words: set a realistic resolution

Jennifer's Journal

It's time, once again, to set our New Year's Resolutions! And I, once again, have resolved to eat better and exercise more often.

Setting health-related resolutions is very common and I do so every year without very much thought, but recently I was forced to take a stern look at what I eat when a nasty bout of food poisoning could not be traced to a meal.

The reason I could not trace where my meals have been coming from lately is that I haven't been eating homemade meals. Due to the busyness of the holiday season, I have been eating out, snacking at Christmas parties, grabbing meals on the fly and heating up pre-made bagged meals from the grocery store.

Having taken the Safe Food Handlers course more than once, I recalled that some food poisonings don't take effect until almost a week after ingesting the tainted food, making it nearly impossible to trace the bad food I ate - hence the need to be more careful of what I put in my body.

So, if you are like me, you set the same resolutions each year and don't actually make any permanent changes to your lifestyle. How can we set a realistic resolution and stick with it? The experts have a few suggestions on goal setting.

Have a clear purpose - for a dream to become a goal, it must be specific. Being thin is an image, losing 10 pounds by March 1 is a true resolution. Be clear on what you want to achieve.

Put it in writing - describe precisely what you want, how you will do it, when you will attain it, and the benefits you'll receive from achieving it. Write down details, but don't make it complex.

Create a sense of accountability - designate a friend, mentor, or companion for sharing successes, monitoring progress, and offering support. The benefit of involving others in your plans is instant access to experience, knowledge, and wisdom but it also raises the bar of responsibility.

Research indicates that one of the qualities of those who are successful at making changes is that they have excellent support systems. Many of those who make resolutions but never achieve them do not tell others about their plans; that way if they fail no one will view them as a failure.

Persist until completed - a resolution achieved is a stunning example of consistency and hard work. If you fall behind schedule or are sidetracked for any reason, refocus. Just don't give up!