Forget the New Year's resolution; set a goal instead

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January is a time of new beginnings. It's not just the start of a new year with new resolutions to make it a better year than what just was, but it's also the end of the holiday season from the previous year.

And sometimes it seems like no matter how hard we try to stay healthy during the holidays, we don't fully succeed at it. January gives us a chance to turn that around.

The stores know this, and they market products for it. Suddenly, treadmills and exercise bikes are popping up in the stores. Diet books are moved to more visible shelving. We see more articles about dieting and exercise in local and national publications.

Many people will make specific New Year's resolutions and then give up on them before the month is out. According to the food delivery app, Deliveroo, Jan. 17 is the day that most people give up on their resolutions.

How do they know? It's on that day that they see a significant jump in orders for alcohol and sweets. They've even timed it to 6:34 p.m. that day as being the time that most people give up on resolutions about alcohol and 6:52 p.m. on that same date for sugary sweets.

On the other hand, research done by Strava, based on analyzing 31.5 million January activities around the world, has determined that the second Friday in January is "Quitter's Day." That makes some sense to me because the second Friday would be the start of the second weekend of the New Year in most cases.

I would imagine that we can all get through that first weekend and first couple of weeks at work with our resolutions intact. But come the second weekend, we're usually ready to chuck it all.

So, given that dismal history for resolutions, I would like to suggest establishing goals for the year instead. Goals are less absolute. You can make it your goal to eat healthier this year without giving up over one bad meal, like you would with a resolution.

Resolutions go by the wayside when they get broken. Goals are reaches, though. We don't have to throw our whole goal out the window just because we ate one unhealthy meal.

As Dr. Michael Greger, author of "How Not to Die," says so often, "It's what you do the rest of the time that counts."

What is a good goal to have for 2019? I like what Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma," has to say, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

This year, resolve to eat real food but not more than you need (most of the time). And make your food mostly come from plants in nature. If you can do that 80 percent of the time, you will increase your chances significantly for having a healthy 2019.

J Lanning Smith is a local freelance writer focused on healthy lifestyles.

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