Losing weight is among the most popular American resolutions when it comes to celebrating a New Year. It also has an 80% failure rate by the second week of February.
Psychologists offer a number of reasons why “losing weight” is often unsuccessful, including that the phrase is not optimistic—it is a negative rather than positive resolution.
- Lose 20 lbs. by June
- Quit drinking soda/pop
- Eat less junk food
- Become more active, train for half-marathon
- Carry a water bottle, drink 100 oz. daily
- Grocery shop for healthy snack options like carrots
Applying a positive mindset to resolutions increases the chance of success—similar to the way Y staff introduces Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards in our afterschool programs and summer camps.
The New Year is a fresh opportunity for youth development staff to encourage healthy habits, with a positive outlook. Here are a few ways to help children re-set and achieve their full potential:
- Get them excited! Ask children in your programs to share about the physical activities and healthy snacks or meals they enjoy. Then encourage them to commit to these options even when they are tempted by less nutritious options or too much screen time.
- Set S.M.A.R.T. goals. These are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. An age-appropriate example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal may be: To drink all the water in my refillable water bottle by lunchtime every day.
- Spell it out! Encourage children to write their resolutions down and place positive reminders where they will see them regularly.
Remember that healthy resolutions for children are not always related to nutrition and physical activity. Completing homework, donating money, volunteering, learning a new instrument or skill, or practicing positive self-affirmations, are many ways that youth can begin to develop healthy habits.