New Year’s resolutions. In previous years SRxA’s Word on Health has provided some great tips to help our readers improve their health. This year’s no different…except we’re telling you not to make resolutions.
Yes! We are officially letting you off the hook. Why? Because according to new research, thinking of health and fitness goals as “New Year’s resolutions” can actually harm your health and have nasty emotional side effects. For starters two-thirds of people end up ditching their New Year’s goals within weeks of starting them, less than 20% of people will stay with their resolutions for more than six months and less than 10% will keep them all year. This inability to stay on track, can lead to feelings of failure and inadequacy. Experiencing setbacks such as cheating on your diet or skipping a day at the gym can amplify those feelings, resulting in a downward spiral that can lead you back into old habits faster than if you hadn’t made resolutions in the first place.
Although cutting back on certain foods can be good for your health, completely depriving yourself of them can be a problem. While most New Year’s resolutions revolve around the idea of deprivation: eliminate fat or carbs or salt…these all have a place, in moderation, in your diet. The only time quitting a habit completely is really good for you is if it is dangerous to your health, like smoking or binge drinking. Even then, quitting cold turkey can be hard; it can take months to wean yourself from bad habits. The key is moderation, not deprivation.
Another problem with resolutions is that diet and fitness targets are often totally unrealistic. Setting over-ambitious goals for yourself can lead to perceived failure which means you’ll be more likely to give up and slip right back into old habits. The key to improving your health habits is to gradually implement change and incorporate them as a part of your lifestyle.
Finally, remember that feeding and fueling your body mentally, physically and spiritually should be fun. You should never feel like taking care of yourself is work. New Year’s resolutions often take all of the enjoyment out of the process of change. Improving yourself is not just about the end goal, it’s about overcoming obstacles in between and becoming more confident and aware of who you are. Yes, the destination matters, but so does the journey.
So this year, you have our permission to ditch the resolutions, and forego the guilt. Instead, why not focus on the present…and each day think of one thing you can do right now, towards your goal?