Q. I have made New Year’s resolutions in the past and have failed at most. Do you have any tips to help me succeed this time?
A. Happy New Year to all. A common tradition when we ring in a New Year is to reflect on our body, mind and lifestyle and resolve to make changes for the better. We may strive to be successful at the onset but more than half of the resolutions made tend to fail. In fact, most do not even see it through to the end of the first month! Of the many resolutions that are made January 1st, the most popular ones are;
· Exercise more
· Lose weight
· Get organized
· Learn a new skill or hobby
· Live life to the fullest
· Save money or spend less
· Quit smoking
· Spend more time with family and friends
· Travel more
· Read more
Before beginning your resolution, here are a few suggestions to help you get started. A well-known acronym to abide by when it comes to actually succeeding at achieving resolutions is SMART
To begin, if you are truly looking at making a resolution, then congratulations for choosing to make a change to your well-being. Change is hard and it takes a degree of courage to even attempt it. The first step is, obviously, picking the right one.
First, ensure that you are selecting a resolution that best suits you. In other words, do not announce a specific resolution that you know your friends and family want for you. People are more likely to succeed if they are making a change that they truly want for themselves.
Next, be sure it is clear and concise with definite goals. For example, if you are planning to shed some of the excess weight that was put on over the holiday season (or over the pandemic for that matter) then you should not opt to just say “ I resolve to lose weight this year”. Rather, you are better to add specifics to this resolution with how much weight you wish to lose and by when. An example would be to be able to walk or run 5km by the end of three months instead of just saying I want to get in shape.
This leads to the next important aspect of a resolution in that it needs to be measurable. By not having a way to monitor your success, how will you know how you are doing with this resolution? One way to help achieve this is to keep a journal of your progress. Note your number of blocks or kilometers walked/ran or your weight each week or whatever your resolution may be. Documenting your progress helps to keep you on track and you will be less inclined to give up. Seeing the improvement will help keep you motivated and help further your goal. Your blocks or kilometers will lengthen as you continue.
When making your resolution goals, make sure that your specifics are realistic and achievable. You may truly wish to lose weight but to resolve that you will lose about 45kg (about 100 lbs) in a month is not only unrealistic but it will set you up for failure. You will likely not stay the course and any weight lost will likely be regained and then some when you fall off the wagon. If you are not one to get physical exercise, you probably shouldn’t have a goal to run a marathon in the near future. Start by walking a block or two and slowly increase your distance and your speed as you are able. All too often we see people in the pharmacy that have strived to get fit too quickly and have a pulled muscles/groin which inhibits them from continuing their goal. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
You also need to make sure that the resolution speaks to you and that you are doing it for the correct reasons. In other words, it is relevant to you. Relevant resolutions are ones that, if achieved, will have a meaningful impact on your life. For instance losing weight or getting in better shape will usually enhance one’s life by improving self-esteem and by allowing you to participate in activities you may have been forced to give up long ago. Learning a new instrument/ language is very beneficial to your cognitive abilities and can open new doors socially.
Lastly, having a defined time-line to reach your goal will help you to achieve your resolution. Better yet, you can even break it down into smaller increments that can be celebrated along the way. This will in turn increase your chances of success. Just be wise in how you choose to celebrate your success (eating a donut to mark a new milestone in your weight loss is obviously counter-productive). Don’t get too frustrated if you do fall off the wagon on your resolution. That doesn’t mean that you need to give it up. Just hop back on and get back on track You can do it!
For more information on this or any other health related topic, contact your pharmacist.