Studies have proven that 90% of New Year's resolutions fail. Sorry to burst anyone's bubble with that fact. Most of the time this is because people make vague resolutions without a plan to make it happen.
Say that your resolution is to lose 30 lbs this year. Here's how I would break it down.
For January, focus on learning the basics about fitness and nutrition. Google "nutrition", borrow books from the library, read blogs about nutrition and fitness, or download some free podcasts about exercise, nutrition, portions, and healthy foods. Purchase a healthy cookbook or look up healthy recipes online and learn how to eat well at home (which will also save you cash from not eating out). Then, start out slow with some exercise - decide to walk for 20 minutes two times a week.
For February, focus on putting what you learn into practice. Start overhauling your pantry and eating habits. Look up the Eat This, Not That series by David Zinczenko and start making simple swaps to help you make the switch to healthier eating. Increase your walking to 20 minutes three times a week, and add in some basic weight lifting once a week (I still recommend Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred).
For March, focus on increasing your intake of fruit & veggies and train for a 5K. Are you getting the recommended daily intake of 9 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day? If not, try to add in one serving a week until you get into the habit. After you've gotten used to exercising a few times a week, consider making a goal of running a 5K. Follow the C25K running program to help you achieve your goal and sign up for a race to keep you motivated.
Keep going with small goals every month like increasing your water intake, joining a gym, getting a personal trainer, adding a Physical Education class to your semester schedule, eating less red meat, trying out Zumba or a dance class, switch to organic foods, starting a weight-lifting program (like The New Rules of Lifting for Women or P90X), or whatever you think will help you get to your goal. Chances are, if you make small changes each month and stick to them, you will reach your goal of losing 30 lbs long before 2011 is over. So instead of saying "I want to lose 30 lbs this year," figure out how you will achieve that goal. The key to your success will be making a plan that you can stick to. You don't want to promise "I will go to the gym every day this year" when you know you won't be able to stick to it. That kind of resolution will set you up for failure. Instead, break your goal down by tangible steps that you can manage.
Photo from here.