Dr. Julian Whitaker Offers Solution to Make New Year's Resolutions Work

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It's no secret that most of us make New Year's resolutions only to break them a short time later. As we enter into 2012, here's an idea from a leading medical expert on how to transform your resolutions into a successful, positive reality.

Julian Whitaker, MD, founder of the Whitaker Wellness Institute Medical Clinic in Newport Beach, has come up with what he calls a no-fail solution for making lifestyle changes and adopting healthy habits. The solution is to create consequences for failing to follow through on your resolutions -- and make the pain of not following through greater than the pain of changing.

Let's take weight loss as an example. First, decide on the specific behaviors you want to change. Do not commit to losing X number of pounds. Pledge instead to forego breads, desserts and sodas, and to take a 30-minute walk four days a week for the next three weeks. Of course you'll be aiming at a target weight, but if you focus on your behavior—what you eat and how much you exercise—weight loss will naturally follow.

Second, come up with an unpleasant consequence, a disincentive that hits you where it really hurts. For most people, it's the wallet. Pledge a significant sum of money to your least favorite charity, payable if you renege on your commitment. For example, Charlie, a staunch Republican, promised to give $250 to the Democratic National Party if he failed to uphold his commitment.

Third, record the details of your contract; sign, date, and have it witnessed; and make it public. Tell everybody, family, friends, and co-workers about your commitment and its consequences. Keep them abreast of your progress -- and be prepared to pay up if you fall off the wagon.

"I believe that most any behavior can be changed with this system because it makes you accountable," says Dr. Whitaker. "We are accountable for many things in our lives, showing up at work on time, paying taxes, and stopping at red lights, for example. If we don't act responsibly, there are consequences. But when we make promises to ourselves, there are no consequences if we break them. This is why so few people adhere to their New Year's resolutions. Now you know how to change that. Up the ante for failure and you are guaranteed success."

For more information about Dr. Whitaker and his clinic, visit whitakerwellness.com.