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New year's resolutions are always well intended. The problem is generally with the execution. Hence for many of us, the resolutions we have for this year will be the same as the ones from last year and maybe the years before that. So what can we do to make 2013 different and to achieve the health goals we have for ourselves?

First, we need to change our language. Resolutions such as "I want to get fit", "I want to lose weight" or "I am going to eat healthily" are laudable. However, they actually have no meaning. And there is no way of even knowing if you have reached your goal. The reason for this is that the words are not specific. And there is no inherent mechanism for achieving it.

By contrast, "I am going to walk (or jog or cycle) for 20 minutes five times a week" is quite specific. Doing this will increase your fitness. The resolution has a clear focus. It includes the time you are going to invest and the activity you are going to do. You can easily assess whether you are doing it or not. Instead of the vague notion of getting fit, you now have a plan and a mechanism inherent in your goal.

Similarly, resolving to eat three serves of vegetables per day and to substitute water for soft drinks is a clear action plan compared to the notion of "eating healthy".

The key to success is being honest with yourself and choosing goals which are attainable. It is no use resolving to become vegetarian if you love meat. If you wanted to reduce your meat intake, you could set yourself a maximum number of serves per week, which is less than what you eat now. Goals need to be a "stretch" but they need to be attainable.

Also, keep in mind that life goes on. If your goal has been to exercise five times a week but one week you are busy and don't manage it, do not stress. More importantly, do not see this as failure. Sadly, many people see a setback as the end of their plan. It is not! It simply means that you didn't advance your goal that week.

Next week is a new beginning. So, as the adage goes: "Get back on the horse."

The West Australian

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