Be strategic about staying committed to New Year’s resolutions

Q: The past three years I’ve made a New Year’s resolution to work out and lose weight. And every year I lost momentum within a few weeks. I feel guilty about breaking my promise to my family — and myself. What can I do differently this year?

Jim: Many of us make some sort of resolution this time of year, and a lot of those involve healthier living. According to psychologists, guilt might get you to start exercising, but it’s unlikely to keep you going.

It’s a good idea to take a proactive approach to eating right and getting healthy exercise. But you need to be strategic. Michelle Segar, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, suggests the problem is that most of us start an exercise program out of guilt. We feel it’s something we have to do. But we’ll only continue exercising if we’re able to realize that not only does exercise help us feel better, it also improves the quality of our life.

Dr. Segar says society has made the mistake of making exercise feel like a “chore” instead of the gift it really is.

Studies have shown that people who run, walk or go to the gym together tend to exercise much more consistently than those who don’t. Some think it’s a matter of accountability, but it’s more likely due to the fact that most of us thrive in the company of like-minded friends. Among fellow exercisers, a warm camaraderie usually develops — where people connect on various levels, depending on the stage of life.

So, I suggest that you find a friend or two — and you might soon find a new and healthy routine. As the saying goes, any load is easier to bear when someone else helps with the lifting.

To help your family thrive, visit FocusOnTheFamily.com.

Q: My husband and I have decided that this coming year, we want to take a strategic approach to how we handle entertainment in our household. Bob, if you could offer every parent just five tips of media advice, what would they be?

Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged In: That’s a great question. Here are my top-five suggestions:

1) Choose your family entertainment choices based on bettering yourselves. People give all sorts of reasons for their selections. Take movies, for instance. Many will watch a film simply because of the buzz, an ad they saw on TV, who’s in it, how it did financially opening weekend and/or the special effects budget. I’m not saying those things are unimportant. But first and foremost, we should be asking: “Will this film make me (and my kids) a better person? Will it inspire, encourage and uplift?” If it doesn’t, why bother?

2) Get into your kids’ entertainment world. Do you know your children’s favorite musicians? Video games? TV shows? Ask today. Then ask at least every six months. Research their choices at PluggedIn.com

3) Know what your children are doing for entertainment when they’re at someone else’s home. If the form of entertainment doesn’t meet your household’s standards, be quick to supply a great alternative.

4) Model it. If you as parents privately consume media that you’d be embarrassed about if your kids found out, know this: Someday they will. I don’t know why exactly, but it just works that way in life!

5) Put things in writing. When our children were growing up, I wrote out a “family media constitution” that gave us some written guidelines to fall back on. We all signed and dated it. And it helped tremendously. I recommend you post it in a public place in your home.

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Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com