Being on the planet as long as I have, I see too often how New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken. Raise your hand if you have resolved to change something in the new year and have already broken it…c’mon raise your hand higher. I know mine is raised!
We make New Year’s resolutions out of good intentions motivated in part by guilt, media hype and eek! the mirror. I challenge you to forget four resolutions and be kinder to yourself this year. Who’s with me?
What, you ask? Instead of gathering during tourist season and fighting for parking spaces this month, take more walks outside. If you have a dog, walk him—he needs exercise too.
For those living in cold winter regions where walking outside is out of the question, here are some ideas: dig through your old VHS or DVD collections and pull out a Pilates, yoga or Jazzercise workout. If you have cable or satellite TV, surf through stations to find a workout channel. Yoga is great because you can stretch, relax, and minimize tension.
For those who like surfing the net, check out workouts on You-tube. I found a 10-minute workout on Pinterest called the Victoria Secret Model workout. Don’t laugh, it’s pretty darn good. Mobile devices have free apps that you can download: 7 minutes is a good one. TRX suspension training also has a download for those of you who have TRX paraphernalia at home collecting dust.
Speaking of dust, pull your stationary bike or cardio machine out of the garage and start using it. If you feel that belonging to a gym is what you need, then by all means, go join or upgrade your membership. The New Years’ deals will be around for a few more weeks. If your gym is too crowded, consider going at times/days not in prime-time. Early morning workouts are great, because you can get it out of the way, shower and head to work. But make sure you commit to going.
One of the common mistakes we make when starting diets is that we approach food as something NOT to eat or enjoy. Of course, we all need to eat more nutritious foods and cut down on calories. Rather than sink our money into diets that will stop working once we stop buying/eating the food, make a list of foods YOU do enjoy.
Diets that restrict calories or food groups are designed to fail. I don’t like Paleo because I enjoy grains like oatmeal and English muffins. I picked all the foods I love and simply eat less of them. No, it is not simple. I have struggled with 15-25 pounds for several years. Tricks like using a smaller plate, measuring out portions, eating smaller meals per day more often, or sitting down at the table and eating slowly can help you begin new eating habits.
Also, do not give up your favorite treats. Allow yourself a treat now and then so you do not feel deprived. If you are dieting and have a relapse, where the dish of ice cream or the bag of chips won, DO NOT give up! Start over at the next meal or the next day. And weigh yourself only ONCE a WEEK, preferably at the same time. All these diet tricks can be found online at Weight Watchers, Nutri-system, etc., without having to join.
Why not? There is a caveat to this. If your health is at risk TODAY, and you smoke or overindulge in alcohol, or other addictive substances, then seek immediate help. Deep inside, you know what is best for you. Continuing these behaviors puts not just you and your health at risk, but the health of your family, friends and loved ones. Addiction is nothing to mess with.
Do seek outside help to quit smoking. If you are ready to quit, use the tools available, whether it is using nicotine gum or a patch to slowly and safely quit, or by contacting your medical professional. The idea is to quit slowly. Too many people resolve to quit an addictive behavior and try to do so, either on their own, or by attempting to quit cold-turkey. Again, using tools and quitting on your own is a good start, but most people cannot sustain it for very long.
Sure, we’ve all heard how Mr. Smith abruptly quit smoking two packs of cigarettes a day and was successful. Not everyone can do that. Most of us need help and guidance to stop addictive behaviors and substance use or abuse.
Here again, is where we feel compelled to learn something new to feel more productive with our leisure time. Over our lives our interests change and evolve. Instead of learning a whole new skill like sewing or cooking, or attempting to play the guitar or learning a foreign language, make a list of skills and hobbies you already have tried. Perhaps you starting knitting 5 years ago and dumped the needles and yarn into your craft box (with other abandoned projects?).
Go shop your closet or garage to see what toys, hobbies, crafts, etc., may be lurking, ready to be used again! I found a rug-hooking project that I started 30 years ago (to my shame). Yes, I had to You-tube how to hook the rug, but I finished it and felt pretty good about it! If you find an old project that you can re-try, many craft retail stores offer free classes where you can hone your skills and expand into new ones.
Speaking of classes, your local recreation and park department offers a variety of classes for all ages, in fitness, crafts, performing arts, martial arts, swim lessons, lap swimming, the list is endless! Most classes are inexpensive. By taking a class, you can be introduced to a new skill or hobby without putting too much money or effort into it. If you decide you do not want to continue, you can move on. Community colleges and libraries can also be good sources for free and inexpensive classes and programs.
So, yes, I tricked you. Start out your New Year with resolve, not resolutions.
If you want to change behavior or habits, do so slowly and with purpose. Ask for help. You do not have to walk this path alone. And do NOT try to set too many goals or make too many resolutions. Focus on one big item you want to change, and set another smaller goal for something else.
We all have barriers that prevent us from making small changes to our routine. Most of these barriers are of our choosing, and can be psychological or physical. If the top four resolutions don’t exist in your world, there are other things you can do to jazz up your routine. At work, see about changing your work schedule or the hours you work. Now is the time to ask about doing some work from home. If that isn’t allowed, rearrange items on your desk or in your office. Drive a new way to work, to school, to church. Better yet, take public transportation or ride your bike.
Change your perspective in some way. Choose a small, new step to making your New Year better.
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