Rethinking Resolutions

Tablet PC computer with 2013 New Year counterNew 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.

New Year Fresh startAlthough 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.

new-year-resolutio_2384285bFinally, 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?

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I Resolve to Lower My Expectations!

After the over-indulgence of the past few days, are you planning to make New Year’s resolutions? If you’re like the rest of us, chances are, you’re probably going to break them too! Most resolutions, although fuelled with good intent, are little more than clichés and empty promises.

How many of us, wake up a little groggy on January 1st swearing we’re never going to drink /smoke/stay up all night/ (*******) again?

If, like thousands of others, your noble intentions fall by the wayside before January is out, we have some advice that might just help.

William McCann, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center says “I think most people make resolutions that they don’t achieve because they seem so overwhelming.”

He recommends that we should make resolutions that we are sure to be able to follow through on. In other words if you want to be able to say “I did it!” next December 31st, you need to lower your expectations.

McCann’s sample list of attainable New Year’s resolutions:

  • I will eat a little less fried food this year.
  • I will drive a little more slowly this year.
  • I will help others a little more this year.
  • I will interfere in my children’s lives a little less this year.
  • I will talk a little less and listen a little more.
  • I will smile a little more this year.
  • I will be a little better person than I was last year.

Me?  I’m going to try a little of all of the above!  Share your resolutions with us – those you’ve tried, those you’ve failed. We’d love to hear from you.