We often approach a new year as a chance to change. This is our chance to finally lose weight or quit smoking, learn to cook or spend more time reading food labels at the grocery store. Resolutions are great in the beginning and there's nothing like the excitement of finally making a change. But what happens a few weeks or months later? We're usually right back into our old behaviors and that excitement is nowhere to be found. This year, why not take a different approach to your resolutions? Below are a few ideas for change that are more lasting, more meaningful and easier to keep.
If you've resolved to lose weight every year since resolutions were invented, is it time to give it up? It doesn't mean you're giving up on losing weight, but simply coming at weight loss from a different direction. We often tackle weight loss with a sudden influx of exercise ("I'm going to the gym 6 days a week!") and crazy diets ("Cayenne pepper and lemon juice - Yummy!"). The truth is, we're more motivated to stick with exercise when we focus on more meaningful sources of motivation - Enjoying exercise, getting healthy and feeling good. When you enjoy what you're doing, you'll do it more often, allowing the weight loss to happen more naturally.
When it comes to exercise, there's one thing that will happen to all of us: We will fail at it. There will be days, weeks or, sometimes, even months when you fall off the exercise wagon and you may be tempted to give up altogether. However, those exercise lapses are an important part of your eventual success. Each time you fail, you learn a little more about yourself - about what works and what doesn't.
Rather than trying to be perfect at your workout program this year, why not resolve to deal with those lapses in a more productive way?
There are an abundance of obstacles that stand in the way of our workouts. Sometimes, we come up with excuses - Too tired, too busy, too confused over what to do, too bored...too something. We may also have hidden fears that keep us from exercising. We're afraid we'll fail or that we'll hurt ourselves. We may be intimidated by the gym or think we're too overweight and out of shape to even get started.
Make this the year you focus less on forcing an exercise program that isn't working and more on what's really stopping you from exercise.
We may not realize it, but we often have strict rules about what 'counts' as exercise and what doesn't. We have to workout at a certain intensity for a certain length of time and a specific number of days or it's just not good enough. The problem with that kind of thinking is that it doesn't allow for the inevitable roadblocks or, what I like to call, "Life." Life happens all the time - Working late, going out of town or nursing a sick child and, sometimes, the planned workout just isn't going to happen.
Rather than give up, make this the year you stop being perfect and allow for flexibility in your workouts.
I once had a client who regularly worked out, ate a close-to-perfect diet and had finished more marathons than I thought existed. Even with those amazing accomplishments and a strong, fit body, she regularly pointed out flaws that only a high powered microscope would pick up: "I really need to get rid of this one place on the back of my right arm and have you seen the left lower quadrant of my thigh?"
Getting caught up in your flaws can cloud your judgment, making it hard to acknowledge, much less celebrate, your accomplishments. Make this the year you celebrate your strength and focus on everything your body does for you.
There seem to be a lot of rules when it comes to exercise and we often get caught up in trying to conform to those rules rather than creating rules that conform to us. Forcing yourself to follow a program that just doesn't appeal to you, even if you think it fits 'the rules' will never work in the long term.
Make this the year you make up your own rules. Follow your own instincts and do what makes sense for you, even if it doesn't fit with what you've always been told.
For some of us, the thought of exercise is a lot like the thought of doing laundry - A neverending chore that we hate, but have to do anyway. If exercise is just one more obligation in a day filled with them, it will always be a struggle to find the motivation to do it.
Make this the year you explore what you really think about exercise. Is it a chore? Something you dread doing? Try changing your perspective or even your definition of 'exercise.' You may just turn a chore into something you look forward to.
We often exercise to lose weight, but we forget about something very important: Feeling good. It may seem impossible to feel rested, energetic and focused on a regular basis, but it is, if you spend some time figuring out what really makes you feel good. Paying attention to how different choices make you feel makes it easier to make the right choices.
Rather than thinking about the scale or how much weight you're losing, make this the year you answer the question: What makes me feel good? Find out what gives you more energy, more confidence and more satisfaction.