When my children were young, I saved my resolutions for September when they went back to school, when I could organize myself enough to begin thinking about making positive changes. Over the years I resolved all the usual things: to be more organized, lose weight, gain weight, cut coupons, learn French, learn Spanish, clean out the closets, and the list goes on. Some resolutions stuck, while others were forgotten by Valentine’s Day.
I don’t make resolutions any more; I realized when I need to make a change it’s better to do it immediately rather than waiting for a particular date. However, if you decide to go with a New Year’s resolution, there are some things you can do to increase the likelihood of success.
Here are the most common New Year’s resolutions with some suggestions on how to bring about the changes you’re looking for:
Rather than setting external health and fitness goals such as losing weight or being a size 6, focus on the internal changes that will bring about more profound changes that will last. Goals such as having more energy, lowering your cholesterol and being able to run a mile without stopping are internal goals that will improve your health in general, and likely give you the external changes you’re looking for.
When starting or changing an exercise regime, people are often more successful with a workout partner, trainer or health coach. A partner will keep you motivated and hopefully harass you (good naturedly) when you threaten not to show up for class. Personal trainers and health coaches can help refine and structure your goals and create a personalized plan on achieving them, as well as hold you accountable when your focus and motivation wanes. Do not forget that it took you a long time to become unfit or unhealthy, so be patient with yourself as you re-find your health and fitness — it will take three months, at least, to see important changes.
Putting smoking, sugar and caffeine together in one category may seem incongruent but all three of these have some important characteristics in common, including their addictive quality, that makes kicking the habit tough and falling back into the bad habit likely. What I’ve found with my clients is that kicking these habits is most successful when done cold turkey; once you’ve made the resolution, don’t look back!
I don’t recommend, however, giving up all three of these at the same time. One addiction every 6 months or so allows your body and mind time to settle in to the new routine before attacking a new addiction. Also, beware the danger of giving up one bad habit only to replace it with another — those who give up smoking often increase their sugar and caffeine consumption. As with all habit changes, success is often more likely with some professional help and replacing addictions with a new healthy habit often is enough of a distracting to ease the transition. Exercise, yoga and meditation have benefits on their own and the feel good hormones that you get from these kinds of activities will soften the physical and mental withdrawals.
You may want to check in with your doctor before launching a New Year’s resolution, as there may be some health considerations that should be discussed to make your success more likely. The resolutions above, for most people, can be done safely without the aid of pharmaceuticals. If you feel that you need medication to support the transition into the healthier you, ask lots of questions before leaving your doctors office.
Let me know what New Year’s resolutions you are considering and how you plan to achieve the goal. Happy 2016, may your new year bring blessings to you all.