Four days until the New Year’s resolutions begin. Have you made one yet?
I’m not exactly a fan of resolutions because my view on resolutions is rather simple.
I believe if you need the start of a New Year to change a bad habit, (and an exact date) you’ll quickly (sooner rather than later) find another date to restart your resolution plan once you realize that the first calendar date didn’t quite work out for you. Maybe you like the 15th instead, or perhaps February is better for you. Or maybe June is more doable. Or maybe resolutions should only start on a Monday. Lots of excuses. Too many excuses that make you feel poorly about yourself. That part is not so healthy, no matter what the resolution. And, in the aftermath of a stalled resolution, you are left dragging the bag of guilt because you didn’t complete what you set out to achieve.
That’s the downside. Alas, there is an upside.
This year I will try a resolution too, just to see if it’s workable. (Being the skeptic I am.)
The question is this: If the plan is followed correctly, can it, indeed, be achieved?
And if you have a resolution, let’s see if we can get through the first three months.
Surely, you can make it to the end of March, yes? Three months. Not a lifelong commitment, just three months.
The most common health resolutions are (no surprise) to:
1) Lose weight
2) Exercise more
3) Eat healthier
Actually, I think (truly I am convinced) it you do the second two on the list, exercise more and eat healthier – you’ll most likely fix the lose weight issue. Let’s just focus on these, but the plan is certainly similar, no matter what the resolution.
How can you resolve to complete any of the three resolutions above?
This resolution must be really clear and specific. For example,” I will lose fifteen pounds.” Reinforce that you will, not that you want to.
If you need to lose weight – KNOW how much weight you are targeting to lose. And yes, that means you must weigh yourself.
(I know. I know. I don’t like stepping on a scale either. Just do it.)
Be specific and most importantly, be realistic. Twenty pounds in a month is not realistic. Six to ten pounds, depending on how much weight you have to lose, is more realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure on a resolution you cannot possibly attain. Create a plan to break the old habits that have you setting the new resolution in place. Do you eat fast food? That needs to be the first to go, obviously. Too much processed foods and sugar(s)? That’s next to go. Check that off your list. Not enough leafy greens? Plan on a salad daily. Drinking your calories? Well, that goes without saying. Drinking alcohol (in abundance) does not make a healthy person; just a dehydrated one. CREATE and maintain a plan that will keep you on target. Set goals. And instead of food as a reward – find simple rewards that are about sensory pleasure. Music, scent, art. Find something other than food that will reward you!
If you want to exercise more – set a plan for WHAT kind of exercise you can fit in to your lifestyle. Want to take up running again? Start slowly. Maybe a mile every other day the first week, then build to two, then three. Keep it simple. Walk. Daily. Buy a pedometer and chart your miles. Aim for at least 5,000 steps.
If you think a gym membership will keep you motivated… well, I’d say you’re wrong — but let’s assume I AM wrong. See, I think fitness facilities fill up in January, February and March, and then by April 1st, they’re back to normal again. We “regulars” in a gym aren’t keen on the resolution crowd (hate to break it to you) because we know only 1 in 10 of you is actually serious, and you’re taking up our space, our equipment and our time. (Because most often than not, we have to wait because newbies don’t understand gym rules. That felt good getting that off my chest. I know the ‘gym crowd’ is applauding right now.) But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume you do attend the gym, 4 days a week. Make it count. Do not assume cardiovascular workouts only is going to get you in shape. Hop off the elliptical, stairclimber or bike. Find the weights, take a class, and MOVE.
And lastly, eating healthy is actually a fun journey. Really. Eating healthy isn’t a punishment, albeit it is challenging, it is meant to teach you how to sustain good eating habits. Note how many fruits and vegetables you eat (or don’t). Are you eating boxed, processed, unhealthy foods? Be creative and find new and interesting ways to eat well, whether it be to take a cooking class, invest in cookbooks, or join a community nutrition class. Read. Learn. Enjoy food. Real food.
There is a comic strip in a health magazine (remember…I’m lousy at describing jokes) where a very unattractive man is explaining to his extraordinarily handsome co-worker why this handsome bachelor is still single at 40. He explains to his coworker that he, the unattractive one, is a chef, a baker, and a brilliant presenter of foods, and exercises daily with his wife and exclaims, “This is the secret!” The handsome coworker is then seen, in the next strip, 30 years later, hunched over, overweight, not so attractive anymore, alone, and still ordering take-out. (That’s right, some people never get it.)
The moral of this story: It isn’t “learn to cook” – though it could (and should) be. (I’m laughing.) It means plan a lifestyle that is healthy. So many rewards are reaped from being healthier. Eat for nutrition, and yes, exercise! These relatively small lifestyle changes create habits that you pass along to the ones closest to you. You may stumble, fall, and have setbacks – but DO NOT GIVE UP. Pick yourself right back up the following day. Habits typically take twenty-one days to break.
Let’s see if we can hang in there for three months. Let’s make 2012 the year of your good health.
Happy New Year, my friends.