Maureen Pratt

If you’re finding the act of maintaining your resolve for resolutions difficult-to-impossible right about now, take heart. Many resolutions are doomed to fail from the start. Many set larger-than-life goals at the beginning of the year that are practically impossible to achieve the weeks following.

Some decide they’ll run a marathon, even if they get winded walking to the store to buy appropriate shoes. Others resolve to lose 50 pounds (when they have a fridge full of leftovers from Christmas, and Valentine’s Day candy is on the way).

Other say they’ll take better care of themselves without specifying what that means.

You get the idea.

These and other goals are unreachable without laying the groundwork. They need to be tackled one at a time. Added to the challenge of trying to meet unrealistic goals, we pile another: We often are our worst enemy when it comes to changing habits.

As days go by with more setbacks than successes, we abandon our goals. It’s important to remember during these moments that just because health goals are hard to achieve, they need not be discarded. Instead, change tactics if your current ones aren’t working.

If your gym membership is languishing, remember that many forms of exercise can be carried out in the normal course of a day. You can take the stairs, exercise at your desk, take the long way while walking to work or the store. These and other options add up to extra calories expended and can make a great difference. (Of course, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise plan.)

Make exercise social and fun. Discuss options with your doctor and your friends, your spouse, your colleagues. Organize a bowling league or a regular tennis match.

Losing weight is probably the top, if not one of the top, resolutions made and broken each year. Failure is almost accepted as normal, but it doesn’t have to be.

One approach to weight loss might include cutting back on portions, not necessarily entirely cutting out the foods you like. Or you can cut out one ingredient at a time. For example, use less salt or fat and add in a fruit or vegetable to a favorite meal.

Understand your schedule and what is possible to do within those hours. Fad diets are called that for a reason, and usually aren’t easy to maintain long term. If your willpower is weak, keep tempting foods out of sight and out of your stomach.

Eating healthy foods can be fun. Gather your friends and family and organize a trip to the supermarket or farmers market and encourage one another to buy only fresh, healthful foods. Teach each other how to cook your favorite recipes. Put together a group cookbook, adding to it as your culinary skills blossom.

“Taking better care” of yourself can mean many different things. Rather than trying to tackle a long list of items, schedule one thing a week. Schedule a doctor’s appointment, a session with a physical therapist or trainer, to set you on a solid path to fitness.

Aim to sleep better, spend more time with family, dedicate time to pray, but do so one at a time. Get a firm handle on one before moving to the other. Keep a list of what you do and your thoughts on ways to be more effective as you move forward.

Above all, keep positive about the good things you want to do this year. Setbacks will occur, and your tactics might change. But the results, as you see them bloom, will be beautiful to behold.