african american woman exercise ball

Hey, there. It’s approaching the end of February. How ya doin’?

How far have you come on those resolutions? Hell, do you even remember your resolutions?

The reality is, while most resolutions are noble and honest declarations of things we genuinely need to change in our everyday lives, they are far more complex than we originally estimated. The most popular of resolutions – quitting smoking, exercising regularly, being more responsible with money, and eating healthier – are usually massive umbrellas under which we’d find other, more complex, less cutesy-sounding things like “better stress management,” “stronger self-control,” and - for crying out loud – “learning how to cook.”

Either way, if we want to accomplish these huge goals, we have to dig a little deeper. Here, I’ll share with you a few tips to take a more sensible approach to the most common fitness-and nutrition-related resolutions, to help you get on the right path to recommitting to your resolutions… even though it is almost March.

1) I know you wanted to hit that gym five days a week, but the gym just ain’t for everybody. It ain’t. It can be out of the way, it can be boring, you could feel out of place – a major deterrent – or the gym staff aren’t very helpful or encouraging, any number of things could happen that make you feel less and less like you should be there.

No worries! Instead of committing to doing this thing that you can’t stand, commit to trying a new activity every week, once a week, until you find something you love in a community that welcomes you. For some, that’s crossfit. For others, that might be Zumba. Pole fitness, Hip Hop Dance, Black Girls Run! (or Black Men Run), Yoga, Pilates, Tango, Boot Camping it, whatever. Being active is supposed to be enjoyable, and most people don’t stick to it because, quite frankly, it isn’t for them. Pleasure is the first part of commitment when it comes to healthy living, so testing out different activities until you find the best one for you has the dual benefit of being fun and helping ensure your ability to commit.

2) I know you said you wanted to eat healthier, but. If you’re someone who lives that microwave-love-life, and have done so for a long time, then guess what? It might not go down like that.

In fact, I can see three major challenges: 1) You have no idea how to cook the things you’ve bought, so they sit in your fridge until they go bad. 2) You have no idea how to store the items you’ve bought, so they go bad quickly and attract flies; and 3) You underestimated how much time and how many resources it took to learn to cook, so you wind up not being able to put the proper amount of energy into learning…thereby feeling like you’ve wasted your money.

All three wind up being deterrents to your ultimate goal, and that’s eating better.

How can you fix this? Instead of going cold turkey, go lukewarm turkey – commit to learning to cook one new veggie per week or, even better, commit to adding some colorful raw veggies to your dinner every night. Books like The Produce Bible and The Whole Foods Encyclopedia give insight on how to handle each veggie and what it can do for you, and a quick search of your favorite food and fitness site can usually give you some recipes to help test it out.

Before you know it, you’ll not only be adding more veggies to your nutritional arsenal, but you’ll also be learning new cooking techniques, too!

3) I’m including smoking in this list because it oftentimes falls in the same line as eating better – most people fail at changing their habits on both fronts because they don’t acknowledge how closely linked their habits are to their ability to manage stress. Stress eaters, smokers, and drinkers are a thing, and they have costly repercussions to not only your health, but your wallet. (see? And there’s another resolution right there!) Learning stress coping mechanisms can not only help you identify when you’re reaching for your weapon of mass destruction, but also give you workarounds to help you make the better choice altogether. Books like The Gift of Imperfection can inadvertently help you understand what stresses you out, and the best plan of attack.

Before long, instead of running to the cigs or the ice cream for stress relief, you’ll be breathing deeply and thinking your way through it. As I always say, your body will thank you for it!

Erika Nicole Kendall is the certified fitness and nutrition specialist who writes the award-winning blog, A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss. Ask her your health and fitness-related questions on twitter at @bgg2wl.