Like millions of other Americans, did you made a long list of New Year’s resolutions with much enthusiasm and optimism? I bet you promised yourself that starting January 1, 2016, that you would lose weight, get fit, do an Ironman® triathlon, an ultramarathon, eat more kale and less red meat, stop procrastinating, keep a clean house, get a raise and a promotion at work, be less judging and more forgiving, and so much more.
Now it’s February 1. In 32 days, you’ve achieved every single resolution, right? You’re lighter, fitter, happier, healthier, stronger, and richer, aren’t you? Congratulations on getting that raise or getting hired at your dream job.
Yes, I’m joking, but I know how bad I’ve felt in years past of not achieving one resolution. Well, not “bad.” Words such as “terrible” and “despicable” are more accurate terms.
I’ve been sucked into that insane cycle of making completely unrealistic resolutions, only to feel overwhelmed and unprepared, causing me to give up in anger and seek solace in a ton of dark chocolate, and onto believing myself a worthless failure…only to start the cycle all over when I read or saw something that sparked a bit of hope that the next time will be different.
However, the last few years, I’ve changed my approach to New Year’s resolutions. Instead of “I’m going to lose 30 pounds,” I focus on “I’ll continue to eat better because I like feeling better.”
See the difference? One statement focuses on a one-time achievement. The other focuses on a lifestyle.
Does that mean I’ll never lose those 30 pounds? I admit, I doubt I will and for reasons only a psychologist can probably help me with. I do know that since January 1 of 2015, I have lost nearly 20 pounds and have kept it off. My body is stronger than ever because I’ve added an aerobics class and strength training to my overall activity. I’ve improved my consistency in adhering to a gluten-free diet that has resulted in improved mood and outlook, overall brain function and digestion, and physical strength and stamina.
These are small achievements that, I believe, are making a bigger, more sustainable impact on my health and mobility than just “losing 30 pounds.”
So if you feel like you’ve “failed” at keeping your resolutions, here’s what to do:
- Take another look at your resolutions. Choose up to five of the most important ones and ditch the rest.
- Re-write those resolutions to be more empowering. For instance, instead of “I will lose 50 pounds,” opt for “I will lose three pounds per month by walking briskly for 30 minutes three times a week and having one mocha a week instead of five.” Perhaps this sounds more achievable: “I will learn how to eat and prepare meals more healthfully by reading magazines and cookbooks such as Vegetarian Times and The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook.” (Both of which are favorites of mine).
- Accept the fact that life often doesn’t go according to plan. Work schedules and jobs change. Kids change schools. Families move. Marriage, divorce, and deaths happen. It’s okay to do what you can in the moment when going through situations like these.
- If motivation for improved fitness is lagging, then sign up for an event! There’s nothing like plunking down thirty bucks for, say, a 5K road race to get you motivated to lacing up your walking or running shoes and getting out the door. Go to Active.com to find an upcoming race or event in your area.
- Be enthusiastic about how your resolutions represent a new healthy lifestyle for you. Keep a goal in sight but enjoy the journey!
It’s time for me to fulfill my “Move More” resolution by getting away from the computer and do a quick five minute walk. Until next time, keep moving!