“I’m going to go to the gym 5 times a week this year, I swear!” If you’ve said this as part of your New Year’s Resolution, you are already headed for disappointment. To resolve to better yourself, your life, and your health is awesome; you need to be realistic about your goals AND about your expectations, and you need to realize that you’ll need to put yourself outside of your comfort zone in order to succeed. Here’s how you can incorporate a healthier lifestyle in your 2012 in a successful manner:
- Set Individual, Realistic, Specific Goals: If you’re a single mother of 3 and you resolve to go to the gym 2 hours a day, every day, or if you’re a man who is married to a chocoholic wife and you think you’re going to eat tuna and rice cakes every day, that’s not realistic. Each person is an individual, and thus our goals need to be individual, too. If you’re a single mother of 3, perhaps resolving to go to the gym twice a week to start would be better. Or if you’re a married man whose wife lives and breathes chocolate, maybe resolving to cook healthy dinners for you and your wife 3 times a week would make more sense. If you try to start out of the gates to aggressively, chances are you will not adhere to your resolution. Make sure your goals are realistic and specific to YOU and YOUR life and not to someone else’s. Don’t just make a resolution because it looks good on paper: make a resolution because it looks good in your life.
- Realize There Will be Setbacks: No one is perfect, including yours truly. I’ve faltered from my diet on more than 1 instance (seriously, have you TRIED Peppermint Joe Joes??), but I never beat myself up for it. The body works 1 meal at a time and it does not remember what you ate for dinner last night. Thus, trying to compensate by doing 2 hours of cardio the next day, or by skipping 3 meals, or BOTH, will not undo any damage. My point? Don’t beat yourself up over being a human. Food is good – it tastes good, it gives you energy, and it’s often involved in unavoidable social situations, like the holidays. Do the best you can with what you’ve been given and move on. If you deviate from your plan, sweep it under the rug and move on to your next meal and eat perfectly. If you feel guilty for your cheat, those negative emotions will begin to spiral out of control, and you’ll end up binging, feeling guilty, binging again, and so on. Emotions should never EVER be tied to food.
- Realize You Will Have to Make Sacrifices: You always need to keep your resolutions in mind when making decisions about food and workouts. When you’re at your emergency 4:30pm meeting and your boss has ordered a pizza, you have a choice: either eat the pizza, or eat the tuna wrap and salad you packed for yourself earlier that day. You are choosing to change your body and your health, right? Scott Abel offered great advice on Facebook just last week. He said, “’When attractive distractions [like pizza] present themselves, ask yourself which is more important: the distraction or the goal. If you entertain which is ‘more appealing right now,’ you allow impulse to take over. Take this decision-making beyond the argument for compliance - to the level of morality - and then you will always be in the ‘right mindset.’" This is such a powerful quote, and very applicable to my point.