Local wellness experts: reflection, flexibility keys to New Year’s resolutions

By Christie Vogt

As we start the new calendar year with the coronavirus pandemic in tow, making New Year’s resolutions may feel daunting.

Nevertheless, if you hope to make lasting changes in 2022, consider the following advice garnered from local wellness professionals.

To begin, local dietitian Jenni Wolf recommends considering the why behind your resolutions.

“It’s important to consider why you may want to make a change,” she says, “and to assess the motivation behind setting a specific resolution to ensure that it is one that is in line with your values and not just something you feel pressured to pursue by social media, those around you or just society in general.”

Drew Coleman, of Skybox Gym also encourages well-rounded, self-reflection before making a resolution.

“I think it’s a mistake to focus on your weight or your size as resolution goals because they can be misleading and easily discouraging,” he says. “I think it’s better to focus on and make goals around how you feel in your body, your energy level and your overall sense of well-being.”

Setting a goal that feels both manageable and realistic can help a resolution stick, says Jonathan Swenson, of Next Level Training Wellness and Fitness. “It can be helpful to break it down into smaller chunks,” he says.

For example, you might begin with a goal of going to the gym two times per week for one month, he says. “From there, you can expand and keep making progress.”

Coleman concurs, saying, “Start with small, incremental changes; and if you’re able to make those stick, go ahead and make new goals.”

Wolf also encourages identifying realistic small steps you can take toward an end goal.

“If you’re working to maintain a new behavior or action in the long term, it is worth it to allow yourself a long time to get there, too,” she says. “Also, be open to what I call ‘trial and information’ rather than ‘trial and error.’ Don’t beat up or judge yourself if you miss a day, go back to old ways, etcetera.”

Wolf adds, “Instead, ask yourself, ‘What information can I take from that experience and how can I learn from it? How can it inform my approach to the next day?’”

Simon Hochuli, of Upright Acupuncture and Shiatsu, also stresses the importance of adapting as needed. He recommends that individuals “embrace what is doable and understand an adjustment as flexibility and not failure, as long as you are true to yourself.”

If you have to adjust your goals along the way, Hochuli’s response is, “No hard feelings, no guilt.”

Self-compassion and flexibility are essential, Coleman agrees. “Most of us have become more sedentary during the pandemic, and sometimes it’s difficult to get moving again,” he says, “so people need to be kind to themselves when setting and working toward goals.”

The success of resolutions can also depend on assistance along the way, whether it is from a personal trainer, nutritionist, mobile app or friends and family who help you stay accountable.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Swenson urges. He suggests consulting with professionals “about realistic goals and plans to help you get there.”

There can be a lot of pressure around New Year’s, but resolutions don’t need to begin on Jan. 1.

Wolf says she often sees people making resolutions when they might not be ready or have adequate time to dedicate to them. “It’s 100 percent OK to forgo the January goal-setting frenzy and start something new any time of year,” she says. “Your birthday may also be a good time to stop and reflect if the New Year feels overwhelming for you.” 

Christie Vogt is a Twin Cities-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to the Bugle.

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