THE BLOG
12/31/2012 06:20 pm ET Updated Mar 02, 2013

Ask Michael Cohen: 5 Dos and Don'ts of New Year's 'Resolutions'

The night after Christmas one of my girlfriends invited me over for dinner. She spent the better part of the evening lamenting about how she ate like a pig during the holidays, followed up with an early New Year's resolution that she was going to spin class "like every day" and going to eat better. The latter is why she served me beets and kale. "This is healthy, right?" she asked. #bitchplease. I am not Kate Moss. While we did have enjoyable conversation, a prerequisite to a great dinner, I did leave thinking a couple things. One, I'm starving; and two, New Year's resolutions are just too severe, and usually impulsive, having been declared on the spot, at midnight, after drinking too much champagne. No wonder they are often dropped to the wayside within a few weeks. Instead, why not have quantifiable objectives that are really attainable, realistic and keep you going all year long. Here's my advice on how to navigate the top five New Year's resolutions: the perilous Dont's and the rewards of the Dos.

Do go the gym. Don't sign a year membership.

I totally get it. You ate during the holidays like my girlfriend and now you're ready to whip out the credit card you've already charged up with holiday gifts to pay an initiation fee and sign a year-long contract. Not so much. Instead, go month to month even if it's a few dollars more. Get your LuLu Lemon costumes ready, find a few different classes you "die for" and a lest not forget a treadmill with a view of the hotties working out. Variation is the key ingredient to success at the gym. Be sure also to make goals and target what you're moving toward. Is it running a mile in under seven minutes or simply to stop feeling that you are going to pass out after every class? Gym shouldn't be a chore, it should be a hobby. If you find in three months that you are truly committed, sign the contract on the dotted line.

Do eat better. Don't diet.

There's nothing like seeing droves of urbanites lined up at Whole Foods on January 2, their carts stacked high with lots of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens and chicken breasts. Hey, some might even dabble with tofu and let's not forget the feta cheese because that just makes everything taste better. Right? Then I imagine all the bins full of wilted greens and rotted fruit. Again be realistic so all that food doesn't go to waste and this doesn't happen to you. Instead ditch those hour-long lofty weekend food shopping excursions and spread it out during the week in four 15-minute increments. Stop calorie counting as you make your way through the aisles and buy foods that you know are healthy. Just like the gym, you have to keep it varied to have success with a new way of eating. Think more fish, less meat. Say no to French fries and yes to broccolini; chocolate (in small doses, honey) is good for you. Ditto on a glass of red wine. You'll soon find that shedding weight is an effortless part of your daily existence.

Do philanthropy. Don't do charity.

Charity is having sex with someone you're really not that into. Philanthropy is creating value in the world outside of yourself and expecting nothing in return. Take a look around your neighborhood, city, and identify a problem at its root that you would like to solve. Gather a group of friends, family members and in manageable amounts of time, effort and funds start making changes that keep giving even when you aren't writing out a check. Even though a philanthropist sounds like a fancy title for rich folk on Park Avenue, you don't have to have a seven-digit bank count, just solid intentions with your heart and soul.

Do talk about books. Don't gossip.

If you're a sh*t talker, you can be rest assured people are talking crazy about you because guess what, yentas hang out with yentas and mean girls hang out with mean girls. Not a smart look; neither is incessant talk about the "Kimye" baby on the way or water cooler rants about which Real Housewife you like best. I mean, really? Change your mindset by dedicating yourself to reading a book every two to three weeks. Mix up your library to include a genre you already love, autobiographies of people that fascinate you, and throw in a great novel. Don't read to fall asleep. Read for the excitement of it all, the knowledge one picks up from good literature, and yes the thrill of finishing a book, which should always be accompanied by a glass of champagne. Check out HuffPost's anticipated best reads for 2013.

Do save more. Don't spend (so much...)

I tried an exercise last month, and it wasn't at the gym. It was curtailing my cocktailing. Instead of having two drinks at dinner or drinking an entire bottle of wine at home (don't pretend like you don't do that), I cut everything in half at a savings of $100 per week and put $400 in my vacation account. My now attainable resolution is to get to $4,800 in a year, which I will of course spend and finally do that Costa Rica trip. Now, not only will I not have to sweat my next holiday, but I'm that annoying friends who always feels "GREAT!" in the morning. If it's not alcohol, cut spending in half on something else, be it your Groupon purchases, Gilt.com or that nasty shoe addiction.

If you can't meet me in Costa Rica, leave comments below or share with me your Dos and Dont's.