There’s an age-old joke that, come January 1st, gyms are packed to capacity, but if you wait til February 1st, they’ll be empty again. It’s a joke rooted in the truth that New Years Resolutions seldom set us up to do anything but fail.
It’s a day, two weeks, a month of proudly sharing our green smoothie pics or post-workout selfies, then the rest of the year spent feeling awful that we failed ourselves YET AGAIN.
So what can you do to break the failed resolution cycle, and make lasting change this year?
First, let’s look at:
Why Resolutions Fail
- You went 0 – 100 in 60 seconds
Before the holidays, you didn’t own running shoes. Now you’re planning on spending 12 hours a day on the treadmill. That’s neither sustainable, nor safe.
- Your routine is too restrictive
There are three things you can eat, and so you do. Every meal, every day. You cancel plans with friends because you can’t eat what they’re eating which leads to
- Feeling deprived
Everyone else is getting pizza and beer after the game, but your new routine doesn’t allow for that. It’s hard to focus on the conversation while you’re staring at the toppings dripping off your teammate’s cheesy, cheesy pizza.
- It doesn’t fit your life
Wake up at 5 to hit the gym, spend half an hour juicing/cleaning the juicer, get home from work at 6, then cook your fancy dinner until 8. Was I supposed to pick up the kids today . . . ?
How To Make Lasting Change
- Start small
Like, RIDICULOUSLY small. If your goal is to get fitter, start by walking around the block each night after dinner. If you’re looking for a general health improvement, start drinking lemon water first thing in the morning. If you choose a goal you can achieve with relative ease, you’ll set up a success pathway in your brain. Then you can make another small change. Each goal builds on the last. Remember: it’s far easier to take stairs one at a time than to jump straight to the 4th step (and you’ll have much less chance of falling on your patootie).
- Be flexible
I know everyone thinks that if you take one step outside of your routine, it’s ALL OVER, and that may be a pattern that repeats in your life. But it’s like walking through the forest: the path you’ve walked most often is the easiest to walk. If you want to take a new path, it will require a lot of work and cutting back brambles along the way.
If this is your pattern, set a specific day/meal/whatever when you’ll do something different. This isn’t a “cheat” day where you eat everything in sight, it’s just a change. The connotation of “cheating” says you’re doing something wrong. This is simply an attempt to bring balance to your world. Maybe one morning you don’t have your lemon water first thing. Then the next day you start again. Over time you can be more spontaneous with your rest days vs “on” days. Balance will keep you moving towards your goals without feeling trapped.
- Don’t give up everything you love
Yes, there are times when we have to give up things because of allergies or intolerances (I miss you so, cheese), but giving up everything you love is bad for your MENTAL health. It’s true, you probably shouldn’t eat pizza every day. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for pizza in your life. Some foods are better for your physical health. Some foods are better for your mental health. We need both kinds to achieve a truly healthy life.
- Choose goals that fit your life
Parents of small children probably don’t have time to hit the gym every day. (Heck, they probably don’t even have time to shower every day!) They may, however, have time to get out once a week/month/year to go to a yoga class they love. You may not have time to make all your meals, but maybe you do have time to put together a lunch the night before. Do what you can, and let the rest go.
Stressing about unmet goals isn’t good for your health. Some you will achieve, some you may not. You don’t need a January 1st, or a Monday, or a tomorrow to do something different. Keep going. Take breaks. Pick it back up, and let it go. Focus on how you want to feel, rather than what you want to do.
Are you a resolutioner? (Here are my thoughts on the subject) What changes do you want to make this year?
About The Author:
Kelly Boaz, CNP
Kelly is a holistic nutritionist, specializing in eating disorder recovery and food freedom. She is also a public speaker (TEDx King St. West, TDSB) and a writer. Learn more about Kelly, and about booking private consultations at kellyboaz.com Twitter: @kelly_boaz Facebook: /KellyBoazDotCom