How can we combine the renewed sense of enthusiasm that comes with New Years Resolutions, with healthy choices that are sustainable?
Did you know that New Years resolutions originated in 1735? How are your resolutions working out so far in 2013? I see many patients in January who have self proclaimed to lose weight or to start eating better. I love this time of year because it is filled with the spirit of renewal. I find the act of determining New Years resolutions to be a very inspiring endeavor. How can we combine this renewed since of enthusiasm with creating sustainable healthy choices?
I believe we are all works in progress transmuting our inner desires through the Universe which we dwell in. Like a piece of clay we are being molded and shaped to fulfill our own personal destiny. If you have a New Years resolution, then couple this with patience and a sense of love for yourself. This way if you make a mistake, you can walk through the set back with a sense of kindness and not guilt. We do not always have to get it right the first time, it is our willingness to keep trying which makes us a true success in the long run.
We do not have to embark on our healing journeys alone, enlist the help of family, friends, and your Doctor to help nurture you and give you encouragement when needed. Finding a support group or enlisting a “work out buddy” are excellent ways to ensure continued success. Understanding that our healing journeys consist in some parts of two steps forward and one step backward can make the transition less grueling. Perhaps taking baby steps produces more lasting effects than initial giant leaps for some of us. When embarking on a wellness plan requiring commitment and discipline, go easy on yourself. If you lapse, the healthier response is to try again later not to beat yourself up.
Identifying your triggers when engaging in unhealthy activity is also extremely important. This way the root cause of the behavior can be addressed. Creating a plan for either avoiding or minimizing the effects of the triggers can also be very useful.
Piers Steel, Ph.D. in The Procrastination Equation says
‘that our minds will often play tricks on us, soothingly telling us, “Just this once”. Of course, it never is. That primrose path leads downhill, and on each step are inscribed the words “only one more.” However, knowing when and where your willpower tends to fail is extremely useful. It helps us avoid the situations that tempt us in the first place. Dieters pack brown-bag lunches, not only to control what they eat but also to shut out all the temptations that fill a food court. Ex-smokers learn to avoid their old hangouts, because it is here that the desire to light up becomes overwhelming. That's why some people learn to pack their exercise clothing in their cars - they know that going directly to the gym from work is a good habit. If they first went home, it would be too easy to say “tomorrow”.’
Positive reinforcement can be a nifty way of acknowledging ideal behavior or lifestyle choices. Some people enjoy incorporating a reward system to inspire motivation. Leading a healthy lifestyle is usually not easier at first, but as you begin to feel better and better it becomes a way of life. Reward yourself in a healthy way along the journey. As an example, for giving up coffee, for lets say a week, you could buy yourself some flowers or go to lunch with a friend.
Visual Reward System
Sometime a visual reward system helps one to stay motivated. For example, put all of the money you would have spent on Starbucks or cigarettes in a piggy bank and count it at the end of the week. Savings from a daily Starbucks Venti Latte alone could be $35 in one week, and one pack of cigarettes per day could add up to $44 in a weeks time! That’s a savings of $140 and $176 respectively per month and $1,680 and $2,112 per year respectively for giving up Starbucks coffee or cigarette smoking. If you give up both, that’s a vacation for two to Hawaii!
Emotional First Aid Kit
When our agenda spirals out of control, have an emotional first aid kit on hand. Journaling or meditation can help to re-center one’s focus and can be a great form or releasing and letting go of negative thought patterns which compromise our desire to lead healthier lives. Sometimes we just need reassurance or a “pat-on-the back” for a job well done. Try calling your “work-out buddy” or someone from your support group and talking through the challenge instead of contending with the issue alone.
Jeremy Dean in Making Habits, Breaking Habits offers a self-affirmation technique:
‘Another trick to boost your self-control in the moment is to use self-affirmation techniques. This involves simply thinking about something that is important to you, like your friends, family or a higher ideal. Studies suggest this can boost depleted willpower, even when your ideas aren't connected to the habit you are trying to ingrain.’
New Years resolutions can be a great tool to improve our lives! Draw upon the power of New years resolutions as many people are attempting to make similar changes at the same time as you. The power comes from this sense of collective strength that we can use to transmute our inner workings to the outer world. Happy New Year to to you All and may all your New Years resolutions teach and inspire you to become your very best!