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How to track your progress en route to getting healthy

Each January, many people resolve to improve their overall health in the year ahead. Such resolutions can serve as motivating factors that compel people to live longer, healthier lives.

New Year’s resolutions have proven hard to keep. While it’s difficult to pinpoint how many people are successful with their resolutions, reports indicate that success is typically elusive. A recent report from U.S. News & World Report found that 80 percent of resolutions fail by February.

One of the tricks to realizing a resolution is to continue making progress toward your goal. Finding ways to measure progress can make the difference between staying the course in the year ahead or having your resolution fall short.

Set specific goals. It’s essential that people who are hopeful that a New Year’s resolution will help them get healthier be specific when setting their goal. For example, it’s easy to determine if you’re on a path to success if you declare your intention to lose 10 lbs. rather than simply saying, “I want to lose weight.” If your goals are specific, you can set benchmarks throughout the year that help you measure the progress you’re making en route to achieving your ultimate goal. If you want to lose 10 lbs. and you’ve lost six by the end of June, that’s measurable progress toward your goal that can motivate you to keep going.

Take a friend along for the ride. Friends also can serve as both measuring sticks and motivators en route to getting healthy. A partner who’s also striving to get healthier can make it that much easier to get to early morning or late night workouts. This person can make sure you’re up in the morning and let you know if it’s been awhile since you’ve shown the commitment necessary to achieve your goal. If your workout partner is more than halfway to his or her goal by mid-year and you’re lagging behind, you can compare routines to determine if there’s any tweaks you can make to increase your chances of being successful.

Document everything. Strava is an internet service that tracks exercise and incorporates social networking. Strava helps millions of runners and cyclists track their workouts so they can see if they’re staying the course each day or falling short of their goals. Such services can be highly effective at tracking progress, but people aiming to get healthier also can use a notebook to keep detailed records of workouts, caloric intake and other factors that can help them get healthy.

Visit your physician. Doctors can be invaluable resources as people try to get healthy. Schedule a physical early in the year and ask your doctor to help you set goals. Then schedule a follow-up later in the year to see how your efforts are affecting your overall health. Few things can prove as motivational as a good report from the doctor.
Resolutions have a tendency to fall by the wayside. But with some effective metrics, people can make serious progress toward getting healthier in the year ahead.

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