Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Year's Resolutions: They Can Still Be a Reality

Traditionally many people make New Year's vows centered on their health and happiness. Come March most forget that important goal. Why do these positive aspirations float away? Lack of time, stress, falling back into routines, a sense of failure — all are common reasons. You want to make that health goal stick, how do you do it?

Picture of man and woman exercising
New Year

Change the Language: When planning dinner or discussing plans, plan around your resolution.
Example: "Let's meet at 6:30 p.m. after I get back from the gym." or "What vegetable should we have for dinner?" and "I will shower, meditate 5 minutes and eat breakfast." Habitually adding your resolution to daily planning makes it a reality. Tell yourself verbally it is already part of your lifestyle and it will happen more naturally.

Become Informed: Research your goals. Choose a few resources to consult — a few web sites, maybe a book, a professional. We all know exercise is good, but what are the true benefits? How far is walking 10 blocks, and how many calories does it burn? Do you have time at lunch? Can the kids join?

Visualize Change with Variety: It is known that after seeing that yellow sticky note a few times your brain adapts to acknowledging its presence and you ignore it. To curb this desensitization, switch up the cues. Every month write that note on a different color piece of paper and change the location. By doing this, you keep the resolution fresh.

A Lapse is not Failure: Success with behavior change does not happen magically. Realizing your resolution comes from building habits. It's a bigger picture than that time you missed the gym. Falling behind on going to the gym, or taking that time to meditate, is not failure. Missing one or two days of meditation does not mean failure. You can try again next week and, possibly, squeeze in an extra session or two. Remember the trend is most important.

If your resolution involves health, consider making a health appointment to learn more about integrating diet, lifestyle, and exercise changes into your daily routine. Make an appointment with a local naturopathic physician to set up a plan.

Brendan Smith, ND, naturopathic physician and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University. Visit BastyrCenter.org for more information or to schedule an appointment.

 

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