Stickin’ To It

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At the start of each New Year, many of us set out with a list of resolutions to meet. While they may differ according to personality and age, it is not uncommon to find health related goals on this list of “to-dos” for the year.  They often relate to diet and exercise in the hopes of improving health, self-confidence, or even just in preparation for the vacation to the Bahamas over the summer. For the first couple of weeks, we find success. We wake up an hour earlier to go to the gym, replace our Cheetos and cookies with carrot sticks and bananas, and go to bed at an earlier hour. However, towards the middle of February, we tend to reach our peak, and our determination runs out. We give into a minor temptation, and before we know it, we start to push our goals off to the next New Year’s resolution list.

One of the primary reasons why New Years Resolutions fail is because we go too hard too fast. In order to make lasting, permanent change, we must gradually take small steps towards the bigger goal.  Sometimes, it can be overwhelming to say see a 365 day period before us. Whether it be no soda, no fast food, or no dessert, depriving yourself of these things for 365 days can appear miserable.  That is why it is important to set smaller goals to reach the bigger goals. For example, if you are trying to go to bed at an earlier hour, don’t start going to bed four hours earlier immediately. If you’re normal bedtime was 12:00 AM, try going to bed at 11:30. Once this becomes routine, try going to bed at 11:00, then 10:30, and so on and so forth until you reach your desired goal. For adjusting your diet, try to gradually replace the unhealthy food options in your home with healthier ones.

Secondly, goals tailored to meet health and fitness needs should not be made in the negative sense, but rather in the positive.  Often, when athletes are interviewed, they talk about how prepping for a competition is not only physical but also mental. Sometimes merely having a positive mentality can help us achieve our goals. In our diet-obsessed culture, we have made food the enemy. Bulimia and anorexia are not the only eating disorders anymore. Orthorexia, the unhealthy obsession of eating pure foods, has been added to the list. Food, as it was designed, is a sensory experience that nourishes our bodies. It affects mood, energy, health, weight, and how your body functions. So, if you are trying to give up soda, instead of thinking to yourself, “I can’t have this,” realize that, first, you can have it, but you choose not to because you want to take better care of yourself. In this way, we no longer view it as depriving ourselves but rather rewarding ourselves.

Though February is coming to an end, and we may have already stopped working towards our goals, we can still pick up from where we left off.  However, this time you have the opportunity to adjust them.

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