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How to Stick to New Year's Resolutions

Millions and millions of us will be making New Year's resolutions -- all well-intentioned -- but most of which will be broken before long.

Yet, there are things you can do to make it more likely you'll actually keep at them, as Dr. Wendy Walsh, a clinical psychologist, explained on "The Early Show" Monday.

Usually in January, health club membership soar and the sale of "sin foods," such as chocolate and alcohol, decline, as people vow to improve themselves. But by February, most New Year's resolutions will have be nothing but memories.

Still, some people will actually succeed in making lifestyle changes.


Walsh says change is just easier for some people -- because they have a biological predisposition to tolerate change. Some people are born to love change, adapt quickly, and seek new experiences, while others are genetically predisposed to stick with a routine and follow the way it's always been done. Indeed, change is hard for most of us.

Dr. Jon LaPook looks at the top three health resolutions: quitting smoking, losing weight and staying fit, in's "Washington Unplugged"

Things that Help a Resolution Work:

Desire to Change: Change must come from inside yourself and you must be in a state of readiness. If you aren't really ready (and only you will know) to make the changes you desire to make, than chances are you will not succeed. So before making a resolution, really sit down and analyze what YOU really want.

Ability of Change: You must have the tools and skills. i.e. If you can't read, no amount of desire will help you open the book you've been meaning to read. If you are looking to get sober, look into AA meetings. If you are looking to lose some pounds, research diets now. If you think ahead, you will have your tools in place when the calendar flips into another year.

A Supportive Environment: Do other people want you to change? Move away from non-supportive people. It's part of every drug and alcohol rehab program -- don't hang out with drug addicts and bartenders. Try to find people that are excited about the new you that will result from your resolutions. It will be invaluable if you slip a little.

Confidence: Studies on change show that those who truly believe they can change, do. Doubters will more likely fail. Believing you can change encourages commitment to the process and enhances the likelihood of success.

Instant feedback: We've all heard that small, incremental changes are best because they feel less painful and inconvenient but sometimes BIG changes work better because the immediate environmental feedback is so positive. A sudden weight-loss, for instance, brings compliments and better fitting clothes. Those rewards inspire people to continue to make positive changes. Chances are, one great big change will lead to another.

New Habits Take Time: New behaviors must be repeated over and over before they can become habits. Remember to give yourself small rewards instead of a pass or fail grade. And reward behaviors, not results. If you stayed on a 1500 calorie-a-day diet all week and have promised yourself one desert on Friday night, give yourself the reward even if you haven't lost the three pounds you intended to lose.

If You "Fall Off the Wagon":: Look at this as an important part of change, not a permanent set back. Nobody gets it right the first time. It is important to get back to your positive behaviors and not beat yourself up. Feeling like a failure will create one. Feeling like a champion will help you win.

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