Ballard Naturopathic Blog | Resolutions

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Stone Turtle Health Blog

Resolutions

January 5, 2012

Happy New Year! Every January, many people make New Year's resolutions but very few of them follow through. We've all purchased gym memberships, hoping to shed a few pounds, only to see them lapse after a few visits or dedicated ourselves to a new hobby, spending money on shiny new gear only to find that same gear in the back of the closet when we do our spring cleaning a few months from now. Why do we make resolutions in the first place and why don't they stick?

I believe that we make resolutions for a few reasons- 1) peer or family pressure, and 2) eternal optimism. With the former, external pressure to make changes might be an initial motivator but won't allow us to maintain those changes. It's a stick without a carrot. The latter is just the opposite, in my opinion, the undying hope that maybe this year will be different, that we have it within ourselves to be better people, that if we only try YET AGAIN to make changes, THIS is the time they'll be successful. Neither of these are bad reasons to make resolutions or life changes, but I don't believe that they are enough to make lasting changes. 

If you change for another person, no matter what the reason, you're not fully investing yourself in that change. It's not happening because you want the end result but because you know someone who does or who won't stay if you don't change. Better to consider their request as one factor in a list of pros and cons for making the change YOU want to make. List all the positive results AND all the negative consequences AS THEY WOULD HAPPEN TO YOU. If your spouse wants you to lose weight because they're worried about your health, list all the health benefits you would attain from losing weight and all the repercussions for staying at your current weight (including the possibility of adding more) and determine for yourself if the benefits outweigh the costs. Quitting smoking? Not just because your partner wants you to, but because you will reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, breathe more easily, and be able to live a longer, healthier life with more time for your family. 

Be realistic. I always tell my patients that if they have a drinking problem, I'm not going to tell them to quit cold-turkey, but I do want them to stop drinking before noon. Then, before 4. Then every other day. We sabotage ourselves by creating unrealistic goals and then being unable to stick to them because we don't change everything in our lives to make it more convenient for us to stick with the changes. Want to drink more water? Add an extra water bottle to your daily intake or make sure you drink a full glass of water before each meal. Want to exercise more? Start with stretching for 10 minutes every morning, a 20 minute walk on your lunch break or scrolling through the yoga video options on Netflix and adding some to your queue. By making realistic changes you are providing yourself with an opportunity for sustainable life changes that will lead you to your goals. Try working backwards when planning- where do you want to be in 12 months? What goals need to have been met in 6 months for you to be on track to meet that year-end goal? How about in 3 months? Next month? Next week? break it down to doing one or two simple steps every day that will allow you to reach your objective in a measured and attainable way.

Finally, create your own cheering squad. Tell a few friends and family members (those who you find supportive) what your goals are long-term and how you're meeting them this week. Make sure you tell SOMEONE; this will make you accountable in your mind and will make it less likely that you will quit. Offer unconditional support to them on their goals and provide them with a sounding board for their challenges. It is my hope that all my patients will make realistic, sustainable changes in their lives in 2012 and will find themselves at the end of the year healthier and happier than they began it. Happy New Year!

 

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