12/28/10

Positive New Year Changes

According to John Norcross, a Professor of Psychology and Distinguished University Fellow at the University of Scranton, a clinical psychologist in part-time practice, and editor of the Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 40-46% of people will be successful with New Year Resolutions after 6 months. Having studied New Year resolutions for the past 2 years, Norcross feels that 71% of people will keep resolutions for 2 weeks but that percentage drops to 64% after one month.


For the more than half of the population who is setting a New Year resolution, your resolution will be a success for at least 1 month. I'm not sure on the statistics for Feb-Dec, but I'm sure that those who set realistic resolutions are more likely to succeed throughout the rest of the year than those who set unrealistic, unmaintainable resolutions.

I have faith in you. I know you will succeed. I know that you believe you can succeed. I know your resolution is realistic, practical and doable. I know your resolution is going to make your 2011 better than 2010. What you might not know (or want to recognize) is that you will have up and down days because you are human and not perfect. But as long as you don't give up and aim for progress and consistency, and not for perfection, I know that success is on your side.
The idea of making resolutions is to make changes that will impact your life in a positive way. Striving to lose 30 lbs in 2 months, or 8 lbs in 2 weeks, is in no way going to make you a better you. Likely, strict dieting and extreme exercise is only going to make you moody, obsessed and no fun to be around.

A balanced life involves making small changes that will last a lifetime. Perhaps you are ready to give up your afternoon soda or morning bakery desert habit because you know your body doesn't need the empty non-nutritious calories. But what happens when you go 2 weeks without drinking soda, or eating a bakery desert and then you "give-in" for 1 soda or 1 muffin? Are you a failure? Do you suddenly go back to your old habits and find excuses to back up your long-time love for soda or deserts...such as working out double so that you can reward yourself with soda or bakery deserts?
What is going to happen to your outlook on life if you only set one resolution and you "give-in" every now and then? More than likely you are going to feel overwhelmed, stressed and depressed.

I can see the practicality of only making one change and trying to find ways to make that change last. Because, if you make too many changes, your life can start to feel very overwhelming.

However, the all or nothing approach to resolutions may also seem overwhelming. It's not likely that a resolution sounds like this "I'm going to give up soda 5 times a week and allow myself 1 soda, twice a week". More often, a resolution sounds like this "I'm giving up x, y or Z". Not sure about you, but if something is part of your every-day life, both good and bad, it is really hard to go cold turkey and give it up.

If you tell yourself that you are going to be a vegetarian or are going to stop eating ice cream until you lose weight, what happens when you go out to eat and you aren't in the mood for a salad at a steakhouse? What happens when your kids ask if you want to go out for ice cream and you haven't had ice cream for a month? Are you rational enough to say that "sure kids, all is not lost in one meal" or do you say "Screw it, my resolution is ruined and I will never lose weight or be able to give up ice cream".

I realize that not everyone is going to make a resolution. My advice to you...skip the resolutions and write down 3-5 short and long term goals. As you decide how you will work towards those goals, create realistic deadlines to mark progress for your goals.

Ready for the New Year? Here are some easy New Year resolutions for your active and healthy lifestyle:

1. Walk/bike more, drive less.
2. Strength train at least 2-3 times per week, for around 20-30 minutes.
3. Supplement for health insurance. Consider the following supplements, in addition to a heart- healthy diet: Calcium, Fish oil, Multivitamin, B-Complex, Whey Protein, Tissue Rejuvinator (Hammer).
4. Emphasize water during the day and pass on diet, sport and/or energy drinks.
5. Get a restful night of sleep, most days during the week.
6. Reduce your intake of added sugar (ex. no more than 35g/d for men, 25g/d for women) and sodium (less than 2500 mg/day)
7. Give yourself "me time" for at least 30 minutes a day.
8. Focus on eating food, not restricting. Prioritize a variety of foods to create a balanced diet.
9. Budget your food intake. Eat every few hours.
10. Surround yourself with people who give you energy, not steal it away from you.

***DON'T FORGET..The 2011 Iron Girl Event Series registration will open on December 31 at 9 a.m. EST.
Check out the 2011 event schedule at IronGirl.com