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Tips for making New Year's resolutions you can actually keep

Friday - 12/27/2013, 5:30am  ET

workout
Setting realistic New Year's resolutions is the first step to success. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON - With 2014 rapidly approaching, New Year's resolutions are on many minds.

Often, those resolutions fade away by, let's say, February. But if done right, they can be a prescription for success.

"New Year's resolutions are actually a wonderful idea," says clinical psychologist Gregory Jones with District Psychotherapy Associates. "But it is important that people find realistic resolutions that they can successfully achieve, that are not overwhelming and overarching, and that set them up for success."

In essence, that means taking things one step at a time. Jones says set reasonable goals that you can achieve and build upon success.

That is especially true when it comes to one of the most common New Year's resolutions: to lose weight. Instead of making a resolution to lose 10, 20 or 30 pounds, it's far more effective to focus on making incremental changes leading to a healthier lifestyle.

The same advice holds when your goal is to get fit. Jones says "pace yourself, start easily."

Also, he notes that exercise is one of the best ways to beat stress.

"Some of the best mental health resolutions are really going to be focusing on improving your self care," he says. And that means a focus on exercise, healthy eating and even taking up a new hobby that can serve as an outlet and prevent negative behavior.

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