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2013 New Year’s Resolutions (or the Compulsion to Make New Year’s Resolutions)

new years resolution postcard

What is it about the turning of the clock that makes us want to change ourselves? Well, perhaps not “change,” but improve or enhance. I think it must be the feeling of “starting fresh.” Like all dieters tend to do by starting their diet on a Monday rather than, say, a Wednesday.

I am a failure at resolutions. I’m not being self-deprecating. This is a fact. I know this because I recorded my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions here on the blog. These resolutions weren’t even newly professed — they were things that I had committed to doing in 2010 already during the year and still hadn’t managed to succeed at. (This is certainly a downside of keeping a public weblog — your successes and failures are out in the open for all to read.)

Oprah magazine cover

The famous cover with “How did I let this happen again?”

At the risk of doing “an Oprah” and outing myself for losing weight only to gain it again, this is exactly what I did in 2012. In January 2012, I started recording my food using an online tool called My Fitness Pal. Two of my friends have had amazing success at losing weight and keeping it off and they use this tool on a daily basis — even when they’re on holiday. So I decided to give it a try. By June, I had lost almost 20 lbs. I let things slide in the summer and now, in January 2013, I sit back at the same weight I started from. As you can imagine, it makes me wonder why I bothered in the first place.

And yet, I still feel the compulsion to make resolutions for the year ahead. While they are not weight-specific, I do need to adopt — and keep — a more active lifestyle. I am far too sedentary, and it will slowly kill me. Research has found that those who sit all day have:

  • 147% increase risk of heart attack or stroke;
  • 112% increase in risk of developing diabetes; and a
  • 49% greater risk of premature mortality.
This research applies to me in spades. I drive to an office, then I sit all day at the office, and then I drive home, and then after the kids are in bed, I return to my computer and do some personal writing. Sit, sit, sitting … it’s the new smoking.I need to interrupt my sitting with movement.

Why do I say “need”? Because I need to do what I can to be there for my kids’ futures and I need to ensure that I am not taking my health for granted when people close to me have had theirs ripped out of their hands against their will. Hubby is feeling this exact same need. He leads an extremely active lifestyle, so his resolution is different than mine but it is related to preserving our health and not taking it for granted.

In reading this article today in the Harvard Business Review, I again questioned whether I should pronounce a specific goal. The author recommends instead that we should adopt “an area of focus.” So as example, a goal would be to run a marathon this year, whereas an area of focus would be to focus on dramatically increasing my level of cardio-fitness. In the first instance, I might meet the goal but to the detriment of knees because I am so focused on the specific task at hand.

And yet, despite the evidence that I do not succeed at meeting new year’s resolutions and the points raised in the HBR article, I still feel a compulsion to have a specific, tangible goal to strive for. Why, I’m not sure. But I’m going to do it anyhow and it is going to be just one goal.

2013 New Year’s Resolution Goal:
To take 8,000 – 10,000 steps each day

For sedentary adults like myself, it is sometimes recommended to increase your steps by 2,000 to 2,500 steps a day. That would mean that I would be striving for 5,000 to 6,500 steps a day. But other recommendations use the magic “10,000” number. Although I am sedentary, I am in good health and know that I can do 10,000 a day when I put attention towards it. So I think the 8 to 10k is a reasonable goal that can help me form a habit and will result in greater health.

In another post, I will go through the steps I’m taking to integrate this goal into my daily life. If you’d like to join me, I’ve love company!

Happy 2013 to each of you. May it be a year full of laughter and love — and great health!


  1. I love that picture at the top. Thats the kind of resolution I really couldn’t keep! Good luck with your steps though.

  2. Sounds like a great goal!  I feel like the library used to loan out pedometers…or maybe there is an app!

  3. Scrapbookdiva2 says:

    I love this. Last year mine was to record my food daily. I did this with the rare exception this year I want to work towards strength and toning. My shortfalls. Starting with small goals to build on. Resolutions are great. Just need to make them achievable and measurable. I love the “steps” goal. It is very motivating to see the pedometer results and a great way to learn and track how to make small changes in your patterns can impact you in significant ways!! Good luck and happy new year!

  4. I’m mentally creating “resolutions” as well, although lack of clarity and accountability may be my downfall. BTW I wanted to get more active again as well (and still want to do better) which is partly why we adopted Freyja. For her, I am forced to walk at least half an hour a day, every day. I used to run half marathons- how far I’ve fallen! However, I am amazed by how motivating her well-being is for me. 

  5. Trish Roche says:

    Jules — this is great. A friend of mine has started doing the 10,000 steps a day and she is seeing results in all areas of her life — weight, energy, body composition (muscle tone). And she finds the pedometer is a great challenge. When she looks at it she sets mini-goals to do 100 more steps at a time. Good luck!! I have to kick 10 lbs. myself but not sure that the weight loss goal will work for me again. I like your idea.

  6. Sounds like a great resolution.  Good for you!  Here’s a little inspiration that I watch when I need a kick in the butt:

  7. Good plan!  I agree that 8k to 10k is a reasonable goal and the benefits truly are amazing.  Over Christmas, I got both my daughter & my father counting their steps with me & my husband was already a walking machine. Very cool (& motivating) when you start spreading activity through the family :)

  8. Oh, can I play too Julie? I have been toying with a 10K steps goal but (how silly is this?) I have always been suspicious of pedometers. The ones I’ve had in my hand never seem to work properly. But if you are doing this and you want a buddy, I will fork over for a non-dollar-store pedometer and join you!

  9. Holy moly, not cheap is right. But I’m still interested. Did you buy online? Just the Zip one? I love graphs and stats – that helped me lose weight last time.


  1. […] mind was swirling with this perfect storm of the desire for physical reinvention when I read Julie’s post last week about her own new year resolution to take 8,000 to 10,000 steps each day. I loved the idea – […]

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    2013 New Year’s Resolutions (or the Compulsion to Make New Year’s Resolutions) – coffee with Julie

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