Why getting healthy shouldn't be on your list of New Years' resolutions this year
The Christmas leftovers aren’t even gone yet and the pressure is on to set goals, the ubiquitous New Years Resolutions are in full swing.
Here we go again.
By the end of the week I’ll have my goals nicely typed into a Word document, printed out and hung on the bathroom mirror. I will have likely spent some money on supplements, a gym membership, and resolved to eat better. And I’m not the only one.
Just Google ‘New Years resolutions’ and you’ll get around 24 million results. Now try ‘how to set goals’ - 1.5 billion results.
And health is usually at the top of everyone’s list because, health is everything.
If we don’t have our health, we can’t enjoy this one precious life we’re given on this earth.
And we have to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others.
In January, the gyms and group fitness classes are full and for retailers in the health and wellness industry, business is booming. But something like 80% of resolutions are out the door by the second week of February.
So why do we continue to do this, year after year?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about setting goals, displaying them, and reading them regularly. This practice alone can be so powerful. I just hate to see so many people giving up on their resolutions. When I set goals and then give up on them, it just makes me feel worse than ever about myself.
What are we doing wrong? Why do so many people give up on their New Year's resolutions?
Start with WHY
So many times we set all the goals that we ‘should’ be setting - eating healthy, exercising, earning more money, getting more sleep, travelling. And these are all great things, but I’ve found that trying to change my whole life at once just doesn’t work. So drill down to the most important things and start with those first. Before you make your resolutions, take some time for introspection. Get a very clear picture of why you are trying to achieve each of these goals.
Goal: I want to eat at least 5 servings of fresh veggies and fruit per day
Why: I know that my body needs this nutrition to prevent disease and illness and I want to be well throughout the year so that I can take care of my family, not have to take sick days from work, and be able to enjoy a long, healthy life.
Get super specific
Here’s why making a resolution to simply ‘get fit’ or ‘eat healthy’ isn’t a good idea. It’s way too general. What exactly does eating healthy mean to you?
I recently found a printed copy of my goals from a few years past and the very first one was this:
I maintain a healthy lifestyle - eating at least 5 servings of veggies and fruit every day, limiting processed carbs to once per week, fried food and white flour products to once per month, consuming alcohol no more than 3 times per week. I exercise at least 3 times every week. Because of my diet and exercise, I feel energized, healthy and vivacious!!!
I think that’s a good one but you could get even more specific if you want.
Cultivate healthy habits
How many times have you been on a diet? The earliest recorded fad diet was in 1820. Every year Americans buy someone else’s set of “rules” to make their bodies healthy. Many times the goal is to lose weight or achieve some other outwardly visible characteristic. Not all of these diets are unhealthy but sadly, many of them include depriving your body of vital nutrients that it needs to function at maximum capacity.
Our bodies have an amazing capacity for self-healing, but we have to give them the right tools to fix the problems.
Many others are nothing more than a marketing ploy - buy this “meal replacement” drink that is packed with dangerous chemicals (Slim Fast, anyone?).
So what’s it going to take for you to cultivate healthy habits?
What makes something a habit? Yes, we’ve all heard about the number of times you need to do something for it to become a habit. Challenging yourself to do, or not do something for X number of days is a great goal. But let’s be real, changing a habit you’ve had your whole life isn’t easy!
Don’t set unrealistic goals
Do start with a few small changes
Don’t beat yourself up if you “cheat”
Do give yourself credit for every healthy choice you make
If you fall off, get right back on! Every second you spend wallowing in guilt is one more second you could be thinking about and planning for your next healthy meal or exercise session.
Think about it, you’re in this for the long haul and you only have one body. One life.
Being healthy is not a destination but a lifelong journey.
So this year, start by thinking about what your vision of a healthy life really looks like.
Write it down.
Plan for it. We’ve all done it, we’re out doing life and getting things done and all of a sudden… OMG it’s already dinner time?! Or whoops, I didn’t make it to the grocery store yesterday so, what am I gonna eat for breakfast? Taking about an hour out of your week, every week, to plan your meals, snacks and exercise time, will make all the difference.
Don’t buy it. If I have chips and cookies at my house, I’m going to eat chips and cookies! At the grocery store is where my willpower really comes into play. You’ve heard it - don’t go hungry and stay away from the center aisles of packaged foods.
Slow and steady wins the race. Strive for progress, not perfection.
Give yourself grace. Don’t waste time beating yourself up for unhealthy choices, get back up and keep going!