Lifetime: Rethinking New Year's resolutions
by Catherine Sabiston, PhD, ctvmontreal.ca
Published Tuesday, January 3, 2012 9:42AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, June 20, 2012 3:02PM EDT
At this time of year, tips for New Year's resolutions bombard us. The problem is that these resolutions are set for the wrong reasons, usually because:
(1) it is January 1st, (2) others are doing it, or (3) someone is asking about our own.
And when we set New Year's Resolutions for these "uncontrollable" reasons, we are likely to NOT see them through.
The bottom line is that you should not jump into a diet plan or a gym membership without paying attention to the reasons for doing so.
Ask yourself why you are setting your New Year's Resolution. If the reason has anything to do with someone else or others, it's not going to work - well, it might work in the short term, but until you do it for YOU, and for the enjoyment such change might bring you, it won't be maintained long term.
The underlying concept for New Year's Resolutions is goal-setting. We talked about the importance of proper goal-setting in the very first segment. Setting proper goals is the key – follow the AIMS principles: Achievable, Important, Measureable, and Specific.
You could also use the strategy of "anti" New Year's Resolutions…all the things you vow not to do in 2012. Here are a few to consider:
1) Don't join a gym just because it is January 1st. In fact, gyms are frantically busy at this time of year! Start with smaller strategies like we discussed a few segments ago. Once you have integrated exercise into your lifestyle and feel confident in living more actively, then start planning longer exercise sessions and joining a gym if that suits you.
2) Don't say you are going to run a marathon if you have never run a 5km, or give up your favourite food that has become part your identity, or lose more weight than you have ever lost in your lifetime. Remember, "achievable" goals. Start small, build confidence, succeed big. Set more achievable goals now, adapt them weekly or monthly, and embrace the small steps to healthy living.
3) Don't go on a diet. Make your own healthy plan – there is no one diet out there that works best for everyone. Eat more vegetables and fruits (see segment 3), cut down on sugars and carbohydrates, reduce fats, and include lots of variety of colour and textures. Learn what eating style works best for you.
4) Don't let your environment control you. If you are trying to lose weight, clean out your kitchen cupboards to remove the foods that will tempt you. Choose to meet people in locations that don't serve high-calorie foods and drinks. Be physically active whenever possible. Control the cues in the environment that can sabotage your goals.
5) Don't stick to the same routine. Schedule new activities, find your passionate activity, don't suffer with boring and stale routines…be it physical activity or eating or socializing.
6) Don't be afraid to give up your unattainable goals, and reengage in new goals.
7) Use every day to set new goals, or resolutions. January 1st only comes around once a year…that doesn't leave much room for error.