Here’s my “bah humbug” beginning to the new year and my take on New Year’s resolutions that are most often broken before the champagne bottles are carried to recycling (you do recycle, don’t you?).
I think New Year’s resolutions are a source of stress and most often set you up for failure. If you really want to change something in your life, you will do it, no matter what time of year it is. If you choose to make changes now, do so. If you have a vacation planned in two weeks, this probably isn’t the best time to start a rigid new eating plan.
Yes, I know we are calendar hardwired to start new things at certain times of the year—in September when school used to begin—the start of a new year in January when we are burdened with guilt of holiday overindulgence and perhaps in early spring when we’re panicking about our lack of a beach body.
Media hype fuels most of these guilt trips. How many NutriSystem and Weight Watchers commercials have you seen in the past week?
There is something to be said for a support group to help you stay on the straight and narrow. If you did put on a few unwelcome pounds over the holidays, this could be a good time to form a walking group with a friend or two, perhaps replacing your weekly movie-and-popcorn indulgences for a healthier pastime.
That’s the key to success–make it a choice, not a guilt trip. Here’s an excellent article on the subject: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/lifestyle-changes.aspx
Do you realistically think you’ll spend an hour in the gym every day, reject carbs and meditate every day if you haven’t already been doing it? You won’t and when you fail, you’ll feel even more guilt.
Choose simple options. Add just one extra serving of veggies a day. Take a ten-minute turn around the block on your lunch break. Don’t try to change your entire life in one week or even one month.
Virtually all research on the subject shows that long-term lifestyle changes take place incrementally. In other words, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
If you have a goal to shed a major amount of weight or to simply get healthier with a better diet and more exercise or even to overcome a major health challenge, set reasonable and realistic goals for yourself.
Perhaps that ten-minute walk at lunchtime is enough for now.
We know that habits are created by repetition over a period of weeks. To create a new habit or replace an undesirable one, repeat the new behavior for three or four weeks, even if you have to force yourself. In that time, not only will you have replaced the undesirable habit, you’ll begin to feel the difference. Once you feel better, you can add another baby step and another.
Spend a little time in the next week or so looking at what you want to change about your life. Be truthful with yourself. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing. Write down your short-term goal. Put it on a sticky note and post it on your bathroom mirror. Read it out loud several times a day. If you slip a little, pick yourself up and get right back on the horse. To mix metaphors, permanent lifestyle changes are a marathon, not a sprint.