goalsPromised yourself on New Year’s Day that you’d start a new exercise regimen, eat better, quit smoking or adopt another positive habit for 2015?

And do you now need help sticking to it–or restarting it?

In most cases, you’ll be more successful at reaching your goal when you launch it in the first half of your monthly cycle–your Week 1 and Week 2, which starts with the onset of menstruation and lasts through ovulation.

That’s because estrogen rises on these days. And this hormonal climb revs your motivation, optimism and stick-to-itiveness–key factors that can impact how much oomph you put into pursuing your new goal.

On top of that, rising estrogen has specific effects on some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. For instance, research shows this hormone helps if you want to…

Exercise

Rising estrogen in the first half of your cycle–especially after the first days of your period–reduces the aches of a new workout routine by blunting pain responses. Plus, it ramps up physical energy and stamina, so exercise may feel a bit easier to start than in the second half of your cycle when rising progesterone is making you sluggish.

Eat healthier

As estrogen rises in the first two weeks of your cycle, it has a slight appetite-suppressing effect. Plus, it quiets the food cravings you experienced during the second half of your cycle when progesterone was pushing you toward high-fat, high-calorie treats and meals. As a result, you may find it easier to opt for–and even enjoy–salads, low-fat yogurt, whole grains, tofu and other healthy fare.

Quit smoking

Research shows you experience fewer withdrawal symptoms in the first half of your cycle than you do in the second half thanks to rising estrogen, which curbs irritability, moodiness, fatigue and discomfort that can come from kicking the cigarette habit.

However, it’s important to note that other research shows that cravings for nicotine can be more intense during the first half of your cycle as estrogen rises. And, if you fall off the wagon and have a smoke, it could be harder to return to your non-smoking ways. That’s because this hormone activates pleasure centers in the brain more intensely, making nicotine feel more rewarding.

Therefore, if you feel a desire to light up creeping on, try taking a 10-minute walk, massaging your hands or visualizing the healthier, happier person you’ll be as a non-smoker. All are study-proven methods to help curb nicotine cravings by distracting you until the desire passes and temporarily boosting your mood until it does.

Widen your social circle

Looking to make new pals or find a partner in 2015? There’s no better time to start your search than the first half of your cycle. Rising estrogen is making you more outgoing, friendly, chatty, bold, flirtatious, eloquent, confident and upbeat–all keys for finding the courage to join a social group or making a great impression on someone you’d like to get to know better.

Start a new hobby or class

I’m a huge fan of regularly learning something new. In 2014, I took photography classes. I just learned how to drive a manual stick shift. And now I’m learning how to play the drums. And after I get a few songs mastered, I’m sure I’ll start a whole new hobby or creative pursuit. If you’re also a fan of learning new things, then you’ll find it easier to grasp new concepts, understand instruction and generally wrap your head around the new hobby or class topic in the first half of your cycle thanks to high estrogen sharpening your brain skills and memory and making it easier to absorb new information. You’ll also have the optimism and confidence needed to push yourself to try something different.

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