HAPPY NEW YEAR!... PLUS ONE MONTH AND A HANDFUL OF DAYS
THE MAGIC OF NEW YEARS
When thinking of New Year’s resolutions many of us focus on what we can do to improve our health. Whether we are unhappy with our weight, dealing with a chronic condition, or generally think we would benefit from being healthier we tend to set big goals for ourselves. We hold ourselves to high standards and often take on more than we can feasibly accomplish. We expect that the new year will be all the motivation we need to create new habits and stick with them. Instead of thinking of one or two goals, we set a goal for every aspect of our diet and behavior that we want to change. We say things like, “come January 1st, I am only eating foods I cook myself, I am eating more vegetables, I am working out regularly, and I am going to stop snacking at work when I’m bored.” And we honestly believe that this time it will stick, we will be different, and it will work, simply because of the magic of the new year.
IT’S ALMOST MID FEBRUARY
How did it go? As we get farther and farther from January 1st, New Year’s resolutions start dropping like flies, as we inevitably fail to meet all the outlandish pressures we put on ourselves. I slipped up, I caved in, I ate something I told myself I would never eat again. Many of us feel that once we deviate from our goal all is lost and we quickly revert to our old behaviors. I am not fond of the idea that deviating from our chosen health goals means that we have failed. Deviations and slip ups are necessary and unavoidable steps toward success. The road to a healthier you is a hard one. It is a common belief that January 1st changes that somehow. You may have days where your goals are derailed, but if you treat every day as a new day, the sum of the year will be a positive movement toward your health goals.
RESHAPING YOUR RESOLUTIONS
Now that it’s February and the magic of the new year has worn off. Check in with yourself. What goals did you set that were unrealistic? How can you reshape your goals so that you set yourself up for success? This may mean giving yourself a break, and focusing on one incremental and achievable goal. “I said I was going to only eat foods I cooked myself. But realistically with my job and busy life I could manage to cook once a week.” It’s still a worthwhile goal and it still moves you in the direction you want. As you achieve this small step you can add an extra day to your goal, eventually taking you closer to your end goal of cooking most of your own food. Be realistic and patient with yourself, your health will thank you for it.