“If you get back to the roots of the whys and starting small and backing yourself up a little bit and slowing yourself down, we’ve found that that’s where you find the greatest success.” 

click to enlarge Michele Taylor, executive director for the Downtown, Mains Street, and MidTown YMCAs, lifts weights in a class at the Downtown YMCA, 1-7-16. - MARK HANCOCK
  • Mark Hancock
  • Michele Taylor, executive director for the Downtown, Mains Street, and MidTown YMCAs, lifts weights in a class at the Downtown YMCA, 1-7-16.

Every year, many people make the same New Year’s resolutions, such as wanting to lose weight or get in better shape. Maybe that’s because most of those resolutions don’t make it a week after the ball drops.

But YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City can help make those goals stick by supporting its members as they create smaller successes and reframe their mindset.

In 2014, a YMCA survey discovered that less than a quarter of Americans kept resolutions throughout the year. Seventy-one percent didn’t complete their goals, and 40 percent gave up within weeks or months of making them.

Angela Jones, YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City health and wellness director, said she believes people abandon their goals due to a lack of resources, such as money and time, not because of a lack of motivation. She also thinks those who are able to keep theirs understand the root, or the reasoning, of their resolution, which drives their success.

“There’s that deeper meaning for them, [and] their readiness for change is at an all-time high, and they’ve tapped into that core feeling of ‘I need to make a change’ because of health concerns or something on a deeper level,” Jones said.

At the beginning of each year, YMCA sees an influx of new members who go through three sessions to discuss their goals and evaluate their lifestyle and daily schedules and then decide the best strategy to meet their targets.

A man works out on a treadmill at the Downtown YMCA in Oklahoma City, 1-7-16. - MARK HANCOCK
  • Mark Hancock
  • A man works out on a treadmill at the Downtown YMCA in Oklahoma City, 1-7-16.

Bite-sized goals

In recent years, Jones has seen a shift from those wanting to lose weight to look like people in magazines to those making changes for health reasons, like high cholesterol or blood sugar.

Usually, those goals also require a lot of alterations to people’s everyday lives. Jones encouraged people to break their resolutions into smaller, more manageable goals because changing a lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight.

“Starting small is really just making sure we’re not overwhelming ourselves with too many high expectations,” Jones said, “setting realistic goals that are manageable and work within what our current life looks like rather than altering everything.”

Jones urged people to focus on completing one step at a time when making smaller goals under the umbrella of a larger resolution. To demonstrate that, YMCA recently adopted OK 5210, an initiative that encourages 5 fruits and vegetables a day, 2 hours or less of screen time, 1 hour of physical activity and 0 sugary beverages.

Jones said OK 5210 is designed around behaviors that set people up for success. She found that after people adopt one aspect of the initiative, they want to adapt another.

“We firmly believe that if you focus on one of those behaviors and stick with it for a period of time, you can really start to see a positive outcome in your health,” she said.

Jones also suggested people join organizations that focus on holistic, or “whole person,” health. It’s important to connect with a community that helps people maintain their goals. Jones believes the YMCA offers a strong sense of community, especially in group cycling or rowing classes.

“You know they’re going to miss you if you’re not there,” she said.

Joining a community also helps help people talk about their resolutions and assists them when they might feel discouraged. Jones said talking about resolutions also allows people to get at the core purpose of them.

“[They might start out wanting to lose weight because they want to look better, but] it really comes down to, ‘I don’t have any energy, and I want to have energy to play with my kids,’” she said. “Those are the important parts of talking it out and having accountability partners and having a partner or a friend that can really help you talk through when you’re having tough days.”

Those discouraging moments come more often than people anticipate. Jones wants people to remember that everyone rides waves and “some days are going to be easier than others.” In order for people to succeed, she said they should shift their focus to a healthier growth mindset in which skills and progress are achieved through commitment and diligence.

Also, Jones said people should allow themselves to have down days, to slow down and remember why they made their resolutions.

“We are in the age where everything moves so fast,” Jones said. “If you get back to the roots of the whys and starting small and backing yourself up a little bit and slowing yourself down, we’ve found that that’s where you find the greatest success.”

Learn more about the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City and its OK 5210 program at ymcaokc.org and ok5210.org.

Print Headline: Resolution reboot, Breaking New Year’s resolutions into smaller goals helps many achieve larger success.

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