Parkland staff reveal their goals, how they’ll keep them
The holiday decorations are stored, the last of the pies and cookies are gone, and it’s time to hit the gym – right? Most of us greet New Year’s Day as a chance to reset goals and make annual resolutions to exercise more, eat less and get more sleep. But as we all know, those good intentions are hard to keep.
Almost 50 percent of Americans make a New Year’s resolution every year, according to statisticbrain.com, but only 8 percent report that they’re successful in achieving their goal. Not surprisingly, self-improvement and weight-loss are the two most common types of resolutions made by Americans. For most, maintaining their resolution for one week wasn’t too difficult – in 2015, 75 percent made it to the seven-day point. But the success rate declined as the weeks slid by, with only 46 percent of people saying they were on-target after six months.
Why are New Year’s resolutions so hard to keep? And is there anything we can do to boost our chances of reaching our goal, whether it’s running a marathon or learning to cha-cha?
Cynthia Castillo, MSW, LCSW, a behavioral health counselor at Parkland Health & Hospital System, offered some insights. “Most New Year’s resolutions involve making changes in our habits and change is hard,” she said. “The key is to use some research-proven techniques to help you succeed. It’s important to change your mind-set before trying to change your behavior.”
• Be realistic. Decide on a resolution or goal that you can achieve and one that is important to you, not important to others. Don’t reach for an extreme goal that sets you up for failure.
• Set a lot of small goals rather than setting one very large goal. Small goals allow you to be successful along the way, and success is hugely motivating.
• Give yourself positive reinforcement. It works for pets, children and for adults, too. Set up a reward system, but don’t reward yourself with something that’s counterproductive.
• Use the buddy system to improve your likelihood of success. Get a friend to commit to the same resolution and hold each other accountable.
• Last but not least, don’t give up after a slip-up. Change doesn’t happen overnight. There will be stumbles, but don’t quit just because you fell off the wagon.
Parkland staff members say they face the same challenges non-clinical people do when trying to stick to their New Year’s resolutions.
Joseph Chang, MD, Senior Vice President and Associate Chief Medical Officer at Parkland, said, “My resolution is to avoid McDonald’s French fries all year. My wife is a doctor and she motivates me with that ‘sideways’ look.”
Luigi Meneghini, MD, Director of the Global Diabetes Center at Parkland, plans to focus on gratitude in the coming year. “My New Year’s resolution will be to make sure I take the time to be thankful every day for the blessing of a loving family, for having a job I love and for being able to walk out of the hospital at the end of the day.”
Leslie Phelps, RN, is one of the legions of people vowing to “lose weight and get in shape.” Celeste Johnson, DNP, Director of Nursing-Psychiatric Services at Parkland, achieved her goal of losing more than 50 pounds in 2016 and said, “In 2017 I will start a serious exercise program, but not at a gym. I know I won’t make time to go, so I’ll find a program I can do at home.”
Melissa Mendez, a Parkland registered dietitian, is also planning to build on past successes. “In 2016, my New Year’s resolution was to compete in four marathons and I met my goal in December finishing the Dallas Marathon. For the upcoming year, my goal is to step it up and compete in an Ultra Marathon.”
Jessica Rivera, Systems Specialist with the VIP/Rape Crisis Center at Parkland, is motivated to “eat healthier and make better food choices. 2016 was a year of health scares for several staff (myself included) and I would like to encourage others in our department to be more food conscious, as well.”
Kellie Rodriguez, Director of Diabetes Education at Parkland, said, “My resolution for 2017 is to spend more quality time with family and friends through planned social activities (or it doesn’t tend to happen) that will include new places, activities and of course, laughter. This also helps me to be true to my promise of providing my children with experiences and not purchases!”
Sharon Cox, registered dietitian, plans to discover more about her family’s health history to share with her doctor and relatives. To achieve her resolution, she said, “I’ll start small with immediate family members to identify chronic diseases; develop a tool to organize the information and update it weekly; talk about what I’ve learned with family and ask for their support gathering information; and recognize not everyone will be excited about knowing more about the family’s health issues.” Knowing that the project will benefit her children’s and grandchildren’s health outcomes is her key motivation, Cox said.
Marisa Aguillon, registered dietitian, said her New Year’s resolution is not to have one. “Each year I set New Year’s resolutions and feel guilty when I don’t accomplish them. I plan to take a different approach that worked for me last year. I started by saying ‘I am…’ instead of ‘I plan to…’ I am going to exercise, travel and earn a Master’s degree. I put up photos, articles and quotes to constantly remind me of my goals. It worked for me this past year. I bought a home and passed my Certified Diabetes Educator exam. The key to success is not to give up.”
To learn more about Parkland services, visit www.parklandhospital.com.