“This year I will lose weight.”
“This year I will work out more.”
“This year I will drink less.”
“This year I will quit smoking.”
“This year I will eat healthy.”
Sound familiar? These are a few of the top New Year’s resolutions that people make EVERY year. Unfortunately, only 8% of people actually keep their resolutions and the majority of the population instead, falls short when reaching their New Year goals. If you’re reading this and you happen to be part of the successful 8% then the following is a just a recap for you. If you’re part of the 92% that struggles with keeping you’re resolutions every year, then the following will help.
Is this you? Why do so many people fail at keeping their resolutions? One big reason is that most fail to realize that any change in behavior that requires repetitive action (i.e. resolutions) is a habit. As the old saying goes, we are the sum of our habits and if your daily habits are undermining your health then they’ll also prevent you from sticking to your health related resolutions. Want to succeed with your resolutions this year? Then you’ll have to change or add in new habits.
Whatever you would make habitual, practice it; and if you would not make a thing habitual, do not practice it, but habituate yourself to something else.
- Epictetus: (Greek Stoic Philosopher).
When it comes to resolutions, just like any other positive habit that you’re trying to incorporate into your daily routine, clarity, planning and commitment are required. Always remember that the quality of your life mirrors the quality of your habits so if you’re trying to improve certain areas of your life, changing your habits is key. Here's how:
2. Keep your resolutions small
Keep them small. I’m a firm believer that small daily changes will eventually lead to big results! Have a resolution of wanting to eat healthier? Break it down and commit to eating a salad at least 5x a week. Or add in a green smoothie and or a fermented food every day. Resolutions such as these are easy to implement, don’t take a lot of foresight and most importantly can dramatically improve your health.
3. Change your mindset
Resolve to change any hindering types of thoughts that interfere with your commitment to following through on your health related resolutions. For example, if you’ve set a goal of working out 3x a week for the new year and you find yourself having thoughts such as ” I don’t feel like it,” “I’m not in the mood,” or “ I’ll do it tomorrow,” make a conscious effort to actually change your thoughts so that they benefit you.
Instead, tell yourself “I DO feel like working out,” “I AM in the mood,” and “I’ll DO IT TODAY”! Practicing this exercise is key for its success, since not only are our actions habitual but so are our thoughts!
4. Decide to commit
Along with mindset comes commitment. Stick to it no matter what! Keep in mind that a strong focus now creates a different future later. Schedule it in, join a gym, hire a health coach, do whatever you feel is needed to help you commit to your goals and do whatever it takes! The first couple of weeks when implementing a new habit are the most uncomfortable and where most people fall off. The resistance and uncomfortable feelings (negative mindset) associated with these new habits is temporary and once you pass through them (usually lasting 2-3 weeks), maintaining becomes easier and most importantly, extremely rewarding!
5. Start today!
Have you resolved to eat healthier in the New Year but actually find yourself eating even worse than before, the last few weeks of this year?! Unfortunately, this type of compensatory behavior is a type of self-sabotage that actually reinforces the current unwanted behavior you’re trying to change, making it even harder to implement your resolutions. Instead, choose to start today and start “practicing” your new habit on a daily basis, preparing yourself for full commitment on New Year’s Day.
Practice yourself, for heaven's sake, in little things; and thence proceed to greater.
Even if you do find yourself by mid-January starting to fall short of your resolutions, following the steps above will allow you to just pick up where you left off and keep going without missing a beat. While the length of your list is dependent on how much you’re trying to improve this year, don’t forget to also add on to resolve to NOT GIVE UP on your resolutions.
A significant part of losing weight and leading a healthy lifestyle is physical activity. Not only does it speed up our metabolism but it also helps reduce stress, sleep better, makes us smarter, and helps us make better food choices throughout the day. But even while knowing this some people STILL have a hard time fitting in some type of physical activity on a daily basis. Common excuses include:
So how do you get past these excuses that prevent you from working out? One way to start is to look at your excuse and ask yourself, how is this type of thinking serving me?
How is NOT working out helping me reach my goal of weight loss and or overall desire to lead a healthy lifestyle?
When framed in this context, most likely, you will realize that you’re current thinking is NOT helping you get to where you want to be. At this point you may want to ask yourself:
Do I really want to make the changes necessary to reach my goals?
If you’re reading this blog you probably do, and put simply, your own self is what is most likely preventing you from working out. So what do you do about it?
Re-Evaluate and Re-Frame your Goal
Will your goal make you “feel good” once accomplished? If your daily to-do-list has a goal of working out, will checking it off your list make you happy? Or is it just another “thing” that needs to get done during your day?
If running for 40 minutes on the treadmill is something on your to-do-list, but when looking at it does NOT make you feel good, you can instead change it to some type of functional activity. 40 minutes of playing tag with your kids, 30 minutes of gardening, walking to a friend’s house instead of driving, a 30 minute hike; these are all examples of functional exercising and COUNT towards incorporating physical activity into your day!
Once you find an activity that makes you feel good, working out then no longer becomes just an item to check off, but rather a life style change.
Arrange for childcare, housework and or work to be taken care of. Hang out with like-minded individuals who also enjoy the same type of physical activity as you. If external support is difficult for you to acquire, focus on building up your own internal support! Pull out your workout clothes and or gear somewhere so they're visible throughout the day. Post a couple of positive affirmations in your house to motivate and remind you of your work out goal throughout the day.
Focus on Today
Stop thinking about trying to work out every day for the rest of your life, which can be discouraging (and not very reasonable) and instead put all your thoughts into working out TODAY! Plan your day, and chisel in a time that works in your favor and focus on TODAY. By doing so you relieve yourself of unnecessary stress (uncertainty of the future) AND you have a much better chance of accomplishing your goal!
Tell people that you are planning on working out at a certain time today and have them hold you accountable by checking in with you. This can be a friend, significant other, health coach…anyone that you have to report back to. This will eventually help you and lead you to holding yourself accountable, which is what’s most important when it comes to reaching your health related goals.
We are our own worst enemies when it comes to failing to stick to our goals!
And our excuses are our own self-imposed limitations projected into the future!
The sooner you realize this, the faster you can move past your excuses. So get rid of those excuses and instead replace them with love; love towards your body and love towards yourself as an individual. Our bodies crave and require movement! There is no better gift that we can give to ourselves other than physical movement on a daily basis!