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This is how to make your resolutions stick, according to a psychologist

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Americans tend to be a pretty driven group when it comes to setting resolutions—more than four out of ten are likely to do it every year, according to researchers in Sweden and the United Kingdom. Not only do more Americans ring in the new year with goals to be healthier, wealthier, and wiser, but we tend to be overly ambitious when it comes to the goals we set. Maybe that explains why so many of us give up by mid-January (and why Quitter’s Day is a thing). One of the keys to success is dialing back those lofty goals and instead working on smaller, achievable ones, according to clinical psychologist Laura Garcia, PhD, Director of Product Research, Applied Science at Found Health. We asked her to share more about the psychology of setting resolutions that people can stick with a little longer.

Q: So why can’t people stick to their New Year’s resolutions? What’s the psychology here? 

Dr. Garcia: First, we often focus on resolutions and goals that are realistic in two to four years. So it might be very discouraging if we don’t see any immediate progress or change. But what we can do instead is break our goals down into actionable steps that we can accomplish early on and really celebrate accomplishing those small steps. 

Second, sometimes we focus too much on weight loss goals rather than the behaviors that can take us there. So, instead of focusing on unrealistic goals, we can focus on developing healthy habits—activities you can incorporate into your daily, weekly, or even monthly routines that are easy, enjoyable, and have lasting effects. 

Lastly, we try to do it alone, and the reality is we need a community of people to help us stay accountable and support us. So this is what we think about as we design our program at Found to make sure people can achieve their long-term goals. 

Q: How can people get back on the horse if they slip up a little bit?

Dr. Garcia: First, try not to beat yourself up. I know it’s really hard—but it’s important to be kind to ourselves. So, rather, we can reflect on what led to the slipup. We can take this as an opportunity to learn what’s working, what’s not working, whether there are emotional issues that we’re coping with, or if the environment is not facilitating behavior change. Taking a moment to reflect will help us develop strategies to prevent a slipup in the future.

Also, we should try to celebrate those victories that we often forget about, like whether we feel more confident or feel healthier. Even though we may not see a change on the scale, we can notice changes in our lives. 

Lastly, seek out support. When you’re feeling down or when you feel you're not living up to your expectations, it’s always helpful to connect with other people and realize a lot of us feel the same way and we can use this as an opportunity to improve. 

Q: What is the best approach to weight loss? Tell us more about the Found approach. 

Dr. Garcia: Found’s approach is comprehensive. Found understands that there are factors people can control about their weight. But there are also those they cannot control, like their biology, medical history, sleep quality, access to food, etc. So Found designs personalized treatments to tackle those factors. It has an integrative approach that allows people to have: 

  • medications that tackle their biology;

  • lifestyle programs in nutrition, behavior, and mood;

  • a community of experts and others going through their own weight loss journey.

About Found

Found is among the largest medically-supported weight care clinics in the country, serving nearly 200,000 members to date. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.

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