Turn Your Resolutions Into Habits

Surprise: More new year’s resolutions than you'd think still go strong after six months -- in fact, at least 40 percent of them do, according to Dr. John C. Norcross, a professor of psychology at the University of Scranton and co-author of Changing for Good. That's good news, whether your goal for 2012 is to lose 10 pounds, stash a larger percentage of your paycheck aside for retirement, or make flossing part of your daily routine. Follow Dr. Norcross’s strategies for successful change.

1. Make a plan.
Last-minute resolutions are doomed. Think about it: If you decide at the New Year’s Eve cocktail bash that you want to lose weight next year, and then come home to a kitchen stuffed with holiday cookies and other treats, how is that diet going to work out? People who plan for their resolutions -- by ditching desserts and stocking up on produce, or by putting the floss on the bathroom vanity as a reminder -- are more likely to succeed.

2. Break down goals.
It takes three to six months for a change to become part of your routine, but it’s daunting for some people to look that far ahead. Instead of one big goal (“exercise three times a week,” for example) make a series of mini goals, each with an expiration date. For instance, you could promise yourself, “For the next month, I am going to get to the gym at least three times a week.” Then after the 30 days, you could keep the goal the same for the following month or tweak it somewhat. If the gym is getting a little dull, maybe you’d rather take a yoga class with a friend twice a week and hit the weight machines one day.

3. Share with your Facebook friends.
“Going public with a goal tends to motivate people more to follow through,” says Dr. Norcross. And using social media is genius because you can get kudos from dozens of people with literally one quick post. Consider giving weekly updates on your progress to drum up support. They could be as simple as, “Ran five minutes today without stopping,” or “Zero balance on the credit card -- woohoo!”  

4. Don’t sulk about a slip-up.
Suppose you’re cruising along on your goal, and then bam, something happens -- you miss a workout, fail to floss a few nights, or polish off a large popcorn and soda at the movies. Before you throw in the towel, know that most successful resolvers get a little off course at some point, and they use their mistake to strengthen their efforts. “Analyze the circumstances that led to the slip-up,” suggests Dr. Norcross. For instance, if you went to a 7 p.m. movie without eating dinner, it’s no wonder the popcorn and soda tempted you. Avoid making the same mistake twice by eating dinner before your next late evening out. 


More articles from Completely You:

·         Quick and Stress-free Holiday Shopping

·         Stay Healthy When Everyone Else Is Sick

·         Look Thinner During the Holidays


Quick and Stress-free Holiday Shopping

I believe that everyone on my Christmas list deserves a great gift carefully selected just for them. But I refuse to spend every weekend in December running around a mall carrying a million bags, overheated in a winter sweater.

Every year, I do my holiday shopping in one day. Yes, you heard me. And I’m not even talking about an eight-hour day. I’m talking about leaving the mall in time for lunch somewhere that’s not a germy food court. How do I do it? By following a few key steps:

1. Make a list, with a budget and a gift next to each name.
Not only do I make a list of everyone I have to shop for (which is usually close to 20), I put down a few gift ideas for them and a budget for how much I can spend on them. This way, I’m doing most of the thinking ahead of time. If I’m stumped, I ask my husband for ideas and surprisingly, he comes up with stuff I haven’t thought of -- even for my relatives.

2. Choose your stores wisely.
Take your list and decide what stores have all or most of those gifts. Bookstores tend to have all the media you want -- and I’ve found they’re great for finding things for those hard-to-buy-for people. Target is good for electronics and home goods, and department stores have everything from clothes to cookware. I like to hit a sporting goods store for the football fans and golf enthusiasts in my life. If you really plan it out, you’ll only have to hit three to five stores for everyone.

3. Shop on a weekday morning.
Do not (for the love of all that is good) set foot in a mall on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon in December. Instead, take a day off work (earlier in the week is better) and go in the morning. Try to get everything done before lunchtime, or at the very least, before schools let out. Fewer lines mean faster shopping.

4. Don’t be afraid to shop small.
Sure, you might find great deals and a large selection at really big stores and chains, but you’ll find bigger crowds too. Don’t be afraid to shop at independent stores and boutiques (especially those you know your gift recipients love), where the goods are carefully selected and you spend less time searching through it. And remember, they have sales too.

5. Delegate.
I never try to do it all myself. Got siblings? Offer to pitch in a little extra for a group gift for your parents if your sister schlepps to the store to buy it.

6. Multitask.
Got out of work early? Head to a local store to grab a few things. Buying groceries? Pick up a few gift baskets or bottles of wine. Shopping for a new book online? Get one for a friend too. If you get a few things out of the way now, your in-store time will be much lower.

7. Teenagers? Don’t even try.
You’ll never get a teenager something he likes, so go for a gift card. Apple store, Game Stop, Sephora, Claire’s. Pick their favorite store and give them the gift of shopping. They’ll love it.

More articles from Completely You:

·         19 Healthy Holiday Gifts for Everyone in Your Life

·         Can You Get Through the Holidays Without Overeating?

·         Easy Ways to Feel More Energetic

·         Sneak in Some 'Me' Time During the Holidays

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6 Apps That Will Simplify Your Thanksgiving

The famous turkey brand has a lot more than a bird to offer. Manage your menu with this app’s extensive and searchable list of Thanksgiving dishes and beyond. It includes voice commands so you know the next step when you’re hands-deep in dough, a shopping list, conversion charts, substitution suggestions, timers and how-to videos.
Available in: iTunes
Cost: $4.99

No need to scour the store Thursday morning for the one ingredient that didn’t make it on your list. With this app, you can create shopping and to-do lists you can share with your family in real time. The app also calculates costs, saves your shopping history and keeps tabs on what’s in your pantry through its scanning feature. If you upgrade to the Pro version, you can keep track of coupons too.
Available in: Google Play
Cost: Free, but Pro version costs $1.99

Whether you’re flying to Grandma’s or going on airport pickup duty, this app can help you avoid traveling turbulence. Get real-time info on departures, arrivals, delays and weather conditions -- you can even access each airport’s flight board.
Available in: iTunes
Cost: $1.99

This cheap-gas finder works on the road to help you locate the best prices as you travel -- which you’ll be especially thankful for when you burn up fuel in traffic. Bonus: If you report prices to this community-driven app, you’ll earn points toward a weekly $250 gas-card giveaway.

Available in: iTunes, Google Play, Windows Phone Marketplace, BlackBerry App World

Cost: Free

Don’t panic if you get called to the table during a turnover. You can stay in touch with all of Thursday’s games -- and your fantasy lineup -- from your lap with this intuitive app.
Available in: iTunes, Google Play
Cost: Free

Don’t let that 4 a.m. alarm go to waste. Plan out which sales you’re going to hit with this Black Friday app, which notifies you of deals as the ads come in and helps you create a shopping wish list. You can also access PDFs of Ad Scans, which will save you the headache of clipping (and organizing) coupons. If Black Friday is not your scene, you’re in luck: There’s also a TGI Cyber Monday app that helps you find and share online shopping steals -- plus you can make purchases directly from your smartphone.
Available in: iTunes, Google Play
Cost: Free

How Jealous Friends Sabotage Your Health

No matter how devoted the friendship, there’s often an undercurrent of jealousy or competition. In researching my book on female friendships, I found that this is particularly true of women. We compare ourselves to each other. We tell ourselves that we make more money, but her kids are better behaved; our house is nicer, but she’s thinner. It’s like a running balance sheet; if one friend appears to be coming out ahead, be prepared for trouble -- and possible sabotage.

The Problem

If you’ve made a commitment to a health goal -- say, to lose weight, quit drinking or train for a marathon -- your friend might feel hurt, abandoned or guilty for not sharing your determination. A jealous friend may try to undermine your efforts by baking you cupcakes or begging you to skip a workout to hang out with her. After all, misery loves company.

What to Do

When faced with an obvious sabotage effort, try telling your friend, “You’re important to me and always will be. But I’m in this new place and I need you to support me and not hold me back.” A good friend will step up to the plate. If she absolutely refuses, you’ll have to make a choice. It takes a lot of courage, but you have to weigh the positive impact of the friendship versus your commitment to your own well-being.

How to Look at It

If your jealous friend continues to sabotage your commitments, it’s helpful to view her as just one of the many challenges you’ll face on your path to better health. Perhaps your new lifestyle will inspire her. If not, you can either accept her as she is or make a conscious decision to distance yourself from her.


Healthy friendships require boundaries and respect.

6 Apps for a Good Night's Sleep

Having trouble falling or staying asleep? Stop stressing and putting your health at risk. Try one (or more) of these apps to smooth the way to a satisfying slumber. 

Deep Sleep with Andrew Jonhson

Why we love it: No matter how hectic your day, this app’s guided relaxation techniques will help you unwind, leave the stress behind and drift off.

Works with: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android

Cost: $2.99

Relax & Rest Guided Meditations

Why we love it: Meditation is an amazing way to clear your mind of all those annoying thoughts keeping you awake, and this app shows you how to do it effectively in just five minutes -- even if you’ve never meditated before. It’s also wonderful when you need a quick relaxation break during the day.

Works with: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Android

Cost: $0.99

Proactive Sleep

Why we love it: Want to improve your sleep habits? This app helps you track and analyze your personal patterns so you can change them. It also lets you set any song in your music library as an alarm and makes you play a brain-stimulating game to shut it off and get you going. 

Works with: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android

Cost: $0.99

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock

Why we love it: If you tend to wake up tired, it might be because your alarm is set to go off when you’re in a deep sleep phase. This app can change that. It uses the accelerometer in your phone to monitor your movements, determining what sleep cycle you’re in, then wakes you up when you’re in the lightest phase.  The result: much less fatigue. Sleep Cycle also keeps track of your sleep data, displaying it in easy-to-read graphs.

Works with: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android

Cost: $0.99


Why we love it: This app turns your phone into a soothing sound machine that blocks out other noise and lulls you to sleep with your choice of 65 different sounds from those found in nature, white noise, music, even a heart beating or a variety of classic lullabies. It also functions as an alarm clock.  

Works with: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad

Cost: $0.99

Relaxing Nature Scenes

Why we love it: For those who need more than a sound machine to block out the day, this is the perfect solution. It combines sleep-inducing visuals (a mesmerizing campfire, for example) with dozens of relaxing repetitive sounds (crickets chirping, a waterfall) that you can combine and layer in any way that suits you.

Works with: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad

Cost: $0.99

What are your favorite sleep apps? Add to our list!

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