With the start of every new year comes a renewed sense of hope, a chance to start afresh on a clean slate, or at least a reminder that time is passing and that this serious commitment to procrastination is not getting us where we want to go.
Thus begins the week of resolutions.
Gym memberships rise as people promise to workout more. Diet and supplement companies increase their profits as we all pledge a new commitment to kale smoothies. Everywhere we look, people are purchasing day planners and storage bins, closet dividers and label makers with hopes of finally obtaining that uncluttered, pristine organized life of their dreams.
Part of the problem is the expectation of going from couch potato to marathon runner overnight. Maintaining drastic change is stressful. It requires much bigger investments in time, finances and stamina to which we’re accustomed. So, before we reap any of the successes, we’re taking on a lot more losses.
Although making a New Year’s Resolution work is not impossible, it can be unrealistic. As our enthusiasm wanes, those added investments feel expensive, and soon we’re back to the comfort of procrastination mode.
Does this mean we shouldn’t even try? Absolutely not. We all have the capacity to change, to learn to grow and live happier, healthier lives. We just need to change our thinking on how to approach these goals.
You have probably heard nutritionists talk about “lifestyle change” over dieting, but what does that mean? Isn’t changing my ENTIRE lifestyle much like expecting to become a marathon runner overnight?
That’s why most behavioral specialists will tell you that people have more long lasting success with baby steps.
So, this new year, instead of pledging to go full Paleo, instead make sure there’s a protein and a fruit or vegetable included in every meal. If you’re a junk food junkie, even this may be too much. Try cutting out fast food, or limiting it to one day a week. If that’s too much, just cut out soda, french fries or whatever food is your particular trigger. If that’s too difficult, don’t cut anything out. Instead add healthy foods, like leafy green vegetables and water.
After a month, if that new gym membership hasn’t seen the light of day, consider canceling it and going for a daily walk instead. The great thing about this is that it’s free and being outside is extremely beneficial to the psyche. One can start by strolling short distances to slowly build stamina. Each week, extend the length of the walk by a block or two and then try to improve on the time. Once the body is not fatigued by an hour of movement each day, it may be time to reconsider that gym membership again… or not.
Whatever you decide, I wish you luck.
Happy New Year!