As 2015 comes to a close, many of us find ourselves reflecting on the past year, pondering our current place in life and considering possibilities for the future. It can be a warm and peaceful time. It can also be a source of stress or frustration if we find ourselves not where we had hoped we would be professionally, personally, physically. There is always the debate over New Year’s resolutions – should we? Shouldn’t we? Are they useful, helpful, meaningful or useless and ridiculous? To resolve or not to resolve, this is the question.
There is no perfect answer – it is a very personal thing to many folks. New Year’s resolutions can be a double edged sword. On one side of the sword, it can provide the motivation and spark to kick start a stagnant physical fitness or healthy eating journey – this is wonderful, helpful and energizing. On the other edge, should your resolve begin to fade in March (if not sooner) and none of the things you set out to do are in place, those same motivational resolutions can become the negative judgement that you hold against yourself – emotionally flogging yourself for your failure, lack of commitment, and inability to fix years of issues in a few short weeks. Many times we make giant lists of all of the things we perceive to be wrong or out of balance in our lives. Our resolutions become one giant long “to do” list that places tremendous pressure on us. Three of the top New Year’s resolutions every year are to eat healthier, exercise more and to lose weight.
Long ago I stopped having a body weight goal and began making my resolutions external achievement goals (like a race or new sport). Over the years, I’ve come to embrace the turning of the New Year and time of reflection. Having specific short term and long term goals for the coming year can be very helpful in keeping us on track. The goals need to be measurable and controllable. The goals need to be realistic and attainable. I recognized that by attaining an achievement goal (completing the race or learning a new sport, or completing a former race, but with a better time) that physically I would be improving and getting stronger. If I was getting stronger and improving, then my weight would surely follow. This approach has proven to work very well.
Having goals like committing to go the gym a certain number of times a week or join a new class at your gym are very achievable goals. Goals such as only having desserts on Friday nights instead of every night is also very controllable. You may not be perfect (in fact I’m certain that you won’t), but if you are better than you were last year, more consistent, more consistent for longer, committed to getting back at it after you stumble – those are HUGE SUCCESSES!!
In the moments when you may find that you are off track, not following your resolutions or drifting back to your former habits – those are the moments to be gentle with yourself. Those are the moments to allow yourself to accept that you aren’t perfect – you never will be. It is this fact that can derail us so quickly. We all say to ourselves “No one is perfect.” We will even comfort a friend who may have stumbled or is failing to achieve a goal. We will tell them, “It’s ok. No one is perfect. Just keep trying.” And we all believe that to be true. Yet when we find that we have fallen short of our imagined perfect self, we are cruel and harsh with ourselves. Our inner self talk can be quite painful and relentless. Remember, it’s not about perfection it’s about what you do most of the time. When you realize that you are not headed the way you want, remind yourself that you still have the desire to try one more time. Be compassionate with yourself as if you were talking with a dear friend.
It is the drive and commitment to keep on starting that is the most important resolution you can make.
Let 2016 be your year of continued resolve – the year you find your external achievement goals that will keep you focused and committed (most of the time). Let 2016 be the year that when you stumble, you smile and remember that all you have to do is get up, dust yourself off and keeping moving forward. Let 2016 be the year that you resolve to always keep trying. And if you’re looking for a little extra support… we can help.
Happy New Year from I-Tri!!!
** None of the information on this site is intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor. Always seek the input of your medical provider regarding changes in diet and physical activity levels.