How many of you have New Year’s Resolutions? And how many promise to eat better or exercise more or get healthier?

 You’re not alone.

Resolutions that aim at improving the body are some of the most popular. (New Year, New You and all that.) The problem is: only 8 percent of those who resolve say they’ve succeeded in sticking to their goals, according to a recent study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

So I’ve pulled together the top 3 of the newest research to help keep you on track. It’s now the first week into 2013. What are you waiting for?

Go Aerobic

Being short on time is a main reason why we skip exercise over, say, anything from dinner with friends to the laundry. So when time is of the essence, focus on aerobic exercise over resistance training, according to a December 2012 Journal of Applied Physiology study. In this large, randomized trail subjects either did vigorous cardio exercise for 45 minutes three times a week or lifted weights on eight resistance machines for 3 sets of 8-12 reps three times a week. The results? Fat mass and waist circumference only decreased when subjects did the cardio or combined cardio with strength training. Those who only lifted weights showed little change.

Bottom line: Aerobic workouts show results faster than resistance training but combining the two still shows the most weight loss.

Have a High Opinion of Yourself

Based on University of Surrey research presented in September 2012, if you approach a weight loss program with confidence, you’re more likely to succeed. Scientists interviewed subjects who were taking heavy duty weight-loss drugs and found a link: those who failed to lose weight while on popular Orlistat, a fat-blocking drug, tended to have a low opinion of their success and felt that they’d be perpetual dieters.

Bottom line: Embrace your weight loss resolutions with a positive outlook and you’re more likely to reach your goal.

Take it Easy

A recent Cornell University study found that crash courses or hardcore deprivation programs are not just harder to keep, they may deter good results. Sometimes, easier, smaller changes—like eating something hot for breakfast within an hour of waking and keeping your kitchen counters stocked with fresh, healthy foods like fruit and clearing away the bad stuff like chips—can help you lose up to 2 pounds a month.

Bottom line: Be kinder to yourself and focus on the small changes and the pounds just may melt off easier.

About the Author

Erinn Bucklan

Erinn Bucklan is a New York City-based journalist who writes regularly about nutrition, diet, food behavior, and fitness.

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