Its that time of year again. It’s the time of year that we decide to make those significant changes in our life for the better. Now that’s all fine and dandy… IF we can stick to them. We call this decision to change a “resolution”, which is defined as: “a firm decision to do or not do something”. Resolutions can vary from wanting to exercise more, eating healthier, treating someone better, changing a negative action, or starting that new plan that you keep putting off.
But what seems to happen with most resolutions, especially those of which we want to exercise more, or eat healthy, is that we start off dedicated, yet, over time, we end up trailing back into our old ways. This may lead us needing to create the same resolution the following year...with similar results. Why does this happen, and why can’t we just stick to it?
First, let’s look at the word “resolution”. Maybe we shouldn’t think of it as a resolution, but more like a “change of habit”. A habit is defined as: “a behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary”. The difference between the resolution definition and the habit, is that a resolution doesn’t have that “follow a regular pattern” involved with it. A resolution is basically just a decision you make.
So, for those looking to create a physical change, like exercising more, eating better, or changing a negative action, unless you create a new HABIT out of this type of resolution, it has a good chance of failure. In order for this new idea to stick, you need to bring this change directly into your daily life. But be careful. If you expect too much of yourself and take on TOO much too soon, you may increase the chance of failure as well. For example, if you say to yourself, “I will run five miles a day”, you may feel the need to actually run five miles EVERY day. So, when life happens, as it always does, and you don’t have time to run the five miles one day, you may say to yourself “I’ll do it tomorrow” which opens the door for a pattern of failed attempts.
With this type of resolution, you need to be PATIENT with yourself, and just make your ideas more broadened. So, instead, say to yourself, “I will walk every day at this time”, and leave the rest open ended. The point is that you want to, at least, walk, every day. Maybe some days you will run, maybe other days you will walk more of a distance, other days it may be a shorter distance, and that’s ok. The point is to repeat the same type of activity over and over, to create a habit. Over time, and once that habit takes over, you won’t have to worry about doing it or not, because the activity will become second nature. Think of it like brushing your teeth. It's a good habit to brush your teeth every morning. We may not brush the same way every day, BUT we, at least, brush our teeth. Think of these new habits you want to work into your life the same way. You don't have to do it the SAME every day, just be sure that you are doing it in some way shape or form.
Remember, that in order for a habit to develop, it not only needs to be repeated over and over, but it needs to remain easy to complete. If you make it too difficult, chances are you may not follow through. Just as it may have taken time to develop poor habits, give yourself the time that is needed to reverse those poor habits into healthy habits. We create most of our habits out of enjoyment or ease, or from what soothes us in some way, so try to make your new habit enjoyable and fun! Keep smiling through, and remain positive about it.
So, what if you are looking to lose that extra weight you put on over the holidays? Do yourself a favor, and try not to settle for the “quick fix diet attempt”. This is where people take a week or two and basically starve themselves to shed some of that unwanted weight. How do we learn to eat properly by starving the body? Sure, some may lose a bit of that weight, but what happens within a month or so? The weight all comes right back, and we go right back to the same poor eating habits that got us there in the first place! Instead of learning healthy habits, the poor habits remain, and nothing changes. So how can we get those habits to stick?
As I stated earlier, be PATIENT with yourself. This is especially true concerning weight loss, since losing weight not only takes time, but it varies from person to person. So, if one person can lose a certain amount of weight in a few weeks, it may take another person twice as long to lose that same amount. Our bodies are all different, so you need to accept what is, and try not to get frustrated with sluggish results.
Slowly start creating new eating habits. Start with slow changes, since the body will respond to that. Look at all the choices of food you make now, and figure which appropriate changes you can tolerate. You can switch out simple sugars, like cookies and cakes, with sweet fruits like pineapple, oranges, or apples. This way, you are still giving your body the sweetness it craves, only in a healthier form. For those that crave the crunch to snack on, you can replace those chips with crunchy nuts, celery, carrots, or broccoli. Create a habit of choosing the healthier foods and by having ample amounts of fruits and vegetables readily available in the fridge for the times you need that quick snack. (You can buy vegetables and fruits already chopped up, so they are just grab and go, so there is not excuse!) These little starter tidbits will help you get on your way to a healthier you!
Think about the daily habits you already have in your life, and how you can create new ones to go with them. For example, think about how you brush your teeth every morning. It’s a habit. You may do it a bit differently every day, but you still do it. Think of other habits you may have in your life, and try to get these new healthy habits to accompany them in the mix.
We are all human so allow yourself a couple of setbacks….but LEARN from them! Be aware of how you feel when you eat chips over celery, or cookies over oranges. Be aware of how you feel if you skip a day of walking, and how much better you felt after you went for that walk or when you progressed into a run. Connect with your body to tune into those feelings and how you feel. The body responds to what it needs and what makes it feel good. Exercise makes the body feel good, just as eating healthy makes the body feel healthy. Start slow and steady as you connect within, and release that happy, healthy person you have inside.
Good luck.. and Happy New Year!! XO
Michelle has a BS, E-RYT, YACEP, CHN, CLYL, and Y12SRL.