3 New Year’s Resolutions to GIVE UP!
January, it’s a fresh start. A chance to create your 2018 New Year’s Resolutions. What do you want to change? Before you set a hefty health goal, I will share my top three resolutions to GIVE UP! These are common, unsustainable pitfalls that many attempt (at least in the short term). I will highlight why you should NEVER attempt these resolutions and how to make more sustainable resolutions.
Making a New Year's Resolution? Be sure to read Top 3 Resolutions to GIVE up first! Click To Tweet
University of Scranton estimates approximately 40% of people make New Year’s Resolutions. The top resolution, which 1 in 5 people make, is to lose weight and/or eat healthier. However, Forbes indicates that a measly 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.
Ask yourself: What makes the difference in resolutions that stick and ones that you give up?
Andrea’s Top 3 New Year’s Resolutions to Give Up!
The New Year’s Diet!
You got it folks – this dietitian is urging you to give up the darn New Year’s (fad) diet! I get the allure of juice cleanses, restrictive 1-week meal plans and extreme low carb diets. They are why Dr. Oz continues to promote such products with their unsubstantiated claims (See my blog – Dr. Oz is No Diet Authority). It’s because people continue to buy these hokey products! After all, these diets promise big results! Whopping claims (like miracle fat burners), altered ‘before and after’ photos and (possibly) made up testimonials –all wrapped in the (dishonest) promise of “guaranteed success”. If only there was a miracle pill! Sorry folks, but there is (still) no magic pill.
For 2018, let's give up fad diets & set realistic, sustainable goals! Here's how... Click To Tweet
A team of UCLA researchers reviewed thirty-one long-term studies on dieting and concluded that dieting is a consistent predictor of weight gain. Up to two-thirds of the people regain more weight than they lose (Mann, et al, 2007). This is certainly NOT advertised. Imagine: Try this “new diet” and you are very likely to gain more weight than before you started! Ready to begin?
Realistic Goal Suggestion:
- Empower yourself to make meaningful changes to improve your diet (if this is what you want). Change only happens when people are ready or when the fear of change is less than the fear of staying the same.
- Next, question long-term sustainability before changing your diet. I always remind my clients that if they don’t love what they are doing, we need to change it up so that it can be maintained. For example, if you don’t want to drink fasting beverages your whole life, then it’s not a sustainable strategy.
- Know that your happiness will NOT increase based on the number on the scale. This is contrary to many dieters’ deeply held beliefs. Click here to find out why weight loss does not increase happiness.
- Consistency is key. Start where you are and make meaningful improvements to your diet and practice keeping them up. When these new habits feel enjoyable, you have created a new healthy habit – congratulations!
- Take a closer look at your overall health. This goes beyond diet and addresses your physical health (i.e., health conditions, how your body feels), mental health (how you feel emotionally), physical activity (are you moving your body) and your stress level. Think about how these different aspects influence one another.
- Bring trusted advisors/professionals/supporters in your corner. Ask for support when adapting your lifestyle or addressing different aspects of your overall health.
I ‘Should’ Exercise More (aka., The Exercise Obligation)
In January the gyms are bustling! But why are they not bustling come February or March? What makes some people stick to their physical activity regime and most fall off?
I believe that it’s the ways we approach/set our goals. Often we approach them wholeheartedly with extremely high expectations. It’s like we forget about our life – our obligations, our schedule/commitments and energy resources. We set these lofty goals hoping for the best. I think of this like the “Hail Mary” shot in basketball when you’re shooting from the other side of the court. We hunker down and try our best to achieve our extremely ambitious goal. Inevitably, life gets in the way. Stress increases, things come up, it snows, and we feel disappointed when we can’t achieve our goal. This is where most give up. Only to start again later when they muster up the courage.
Realistic Goal Suggestion:
- To set yourself up for success in implementing your physical activity goal, view goal setting like climbing a ladder. Start at the bottom and expect that you will have to climb – step by step. Know that you can’t just jump to the top rung. Have acceptance for where you are, today. Have compassion and love for yourself for even climbing a ladder. Many people would prefer to stay on the ground. By setting your goals in increments, you can advance your goal gradually. When you keep going, you will get higher and higher. (Read How to Overcome All or Nothing Mental Sabotage if you find yourself setting goals in extremes).
- Stop using the word “should”! This is probably my least favourite word in the English language. It’s damning and negative. It’s basically saying, I am a failure, I know what I “should” do but I will (likely) not do it. Instead, check in with your language and replace your “should” with a “could”. Feel the difference. For example, imagine you are sitting on the couch after dinner and you say, “I really should go to the gym”. Notice how you feel. Do you feel inspired? Now swap the rhetoric! Instead, while sitting on the couch say, “I could go to the gym”. Now notice how you feel. Empowered? It’s now totally up to you. If you don’t want to go to the gym that’s fine, but the important thing is that you are speaking from a capable position instead of from the victim’s standpoint, “shoulding” all over yourself.
- For 2018, move your body in a way that feels good. Ask yourself, do you actually ENJOY your physical activity? This is a powerful question that requires honesty. For example, I am not a fan of the gym. This is why I am not a member. If you hate going to a gym, then stop going. Change your activity to something you enjoy! This may mean walking, doing yoga, or perhaps taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Start where you are and not where you want to be in five years! There’s no one-size-fits-all in the type of movement that people will enjoy (and want to keep doing).
- Focus on progress and not perfection! Know that you can always increase your frequency of workouts or your workout intensity. I like to say, make it so easy you can’t say no. This way, we take down the mental barrier against this new activity. For example, try a new home workout for 10 minutes – if this seems easy (and you are less likely to say no) then it’s a great place to start! Just try to come up with a routine that you can keep up consistently until it becomes a habit – or the first rung of the ladder.
- Focus on your “internal rewards” instead of “external rewards” for sustainable activity. For example, my client, Paula got into a regular Pilates routine (going to two classes weekly) and she continues to go because (internally) she feels energized, happier and less stressed after class. Being aware of internal rewards, instead of external rewards (i.e., doing an activity to lose weight), allows you to keep momentum because it actually makes you feel good.
Will ‘Make More Time’ to [X] (insert [activity]: meal, prep, cook, pack lunches, etc.)
Magically making more time is a faulty New Year’s Resolution because we all have the same 24 hours in the day. This goal sets us up to fantasize about squeezing more into our otherwise jam-packed schedule. This is simply unrealistic. I know because I’ve tried it many times. It doesn’t work. You feel exhausted and give up. Instead, I challenge you to ask, what I can I take away? What can you REMOVE from your schedule? This will naturally make room for self-nurturing activities to meet your lifestyle goals.Trying 2 cram more into your day? Ask what u can give up instead! Click To Tweet
If your goal is to meal prep, pack lunches or cook more frequently, it is imperative that you take a close look at your schedule and start taking things off! This may sound harsh (and feel very uncomfortable) but it is hard to sustainably do something new when we truly don’t have the time. We also tend to compromise our own well-being when we attempt to “do it all”.
Realistic Goal Suggestion:
- Take a closer look at how your time is spent during a typical day. For example, how many hours are you commuting, working, doing chores, looking at social media? There are cool smartphone apps to track how your time is being spent.
- Decide what would be a realistic place to start with your goal. For example, one of my clients now spends 30 minutes on Sunday cutting veggies after grocery shopping. This habit now makes cooking easier during the week.
- Say no. It’s really hard to say no but it’s extremely powerful. A good strategy is to ask yourself if you really want to do something. If your answer is not “heck yes” then say “no”. This way you are only doing what you really want. Too much time spent on unwanted activities robs us of the freedom to do what we truly desire.
- Here’s an idea that has worked for several clients. Leave a couple nights a week free for meal prep, cooking or doing other self-nurturing activities. This will likely involve saying no to other things. You may need to physically block time (I like using my calendar to block off time to cook). Meal prep, cooking healthy meals and planning does not happen by accident. We have to be intentional and create space in our lives where these new activities can fit.
This year, give up lofty, unrealistic New Year’s Resolutions! Who’s with me? Say no to the fad/starvation/elimination diets. Say au revoir to the obligatory (and extreme) exercise regimes. Say enough is enough to jam packing more into our already busy schedule! Let’s make a shift in finally making yourself and your (mental and physical) health top priority. This means taking an honest look at your current eating and lifestyle patterns. Be sincere in identifying what you would like to change. Seek support and accountability when needed. Most of all, enjoy the process because life is too short to not be enjoyed fully.
What do you think? Are you one to make resolutions? How do you keep them up in the long term?