Last week I encouraged you to list 3 New Year's wishes and resolve to make them come true. Now that 2009 is here and time to live out the resolve you made, how are you doing? Did you jump start too fast? Did you bite off more than you can chew and feel like letting your wishes be just that? You're not alone but with one simple rule you can reset your focus and continue to move forward. Want to know the rule?
Adopt habits and routines that you are willing to carry out for the rest of your life! It may sound silly but it is a rule that can help you take small steps forward toward long term lifestyle changes and success.
Let me elaborate with a scenario.
Most of us can do anything for 12 or 16 weeks especially if there is a goal in sight. For example, let's say one of your New Year's wishes was to lose 10 pounds for a trip in 2 months. You start on a 'diet' and exercising faithfully. The eating and exercise plan are restrictive and intrusive to your lifestyle but you stay the course because the goal is in sight and only weeks away. There is no way you would do this forever or even for the rest of the year, but are willing to live this way to reach your goal. You go on the trip and have a great time while falling away from the 'diet' and exercise habits. You return home from the trip and return to your normal lifestyle which includes only a few of the things you did before the trip and only when you feel like it.
Several months later as swim suit season approaches you decide you need to start another 'diet' and exercise plan. Now you have 14 pounds to lose because of the 10 you lost and gained back plus 4 more. The cycle continues throughout the year. At the end of the year you complain because you have tried every 'diet' out there and exercised but nothing works. You end the year with a New Year's resolution of losing weight. Does this sound familiar?
Many of us follow this type of yearly routine by jumping in with New Year's routines that are restrictive. A few days or weeks into the routine it becomes too much and overwhelming and many of us quit. This is why New Year's resolutions are popular on December 31 and abandoned by January 31.
This brings me back to my one simple rule. By adopting habits you are willing to carry out for the rest of your life on December 31, you are focusing on making lifestyle changes. The small changes allow you to learn and incorporate new behaviors and habits to reach short term goals along the way. Although you will likely have set backs or reach plateaus as you go they are less likely to derail you from your new lifestyle. You are better able to see these as normal and something you can work through with simple adjustments to eating or exercise patterns.
Most importantly, you are not in a yo-yo pattern going on and off restrictive diets or strenuous exercise routines. You are slowly moving forward in your daily choices and taking small steps toward healthy habits for life. This allows you to feel happy and pleased with the lifestyle you are creating and proud of your sustained commitment and accomplishments to managing your weight and health. By the end of the year, you have learned to make your life a healthy life for the long term instead of drastic short term changes that you can not continue day in and day out for the rest of your life. As you end the year you are able to celebrate maintaining your resolve all year long. Is this the scenario you would rather follow? Me, too!
So, as you work on the 3 wishes you have resolved to make come true this year, be sure the new things you are doing are realistic. You want your new habits and routines to be things you can do day in and day out most days for the rest of your life (realizing that we all need breaks and vacation days throughout the year). If what you have started is too much and too overwhelming, see if it fits with the rule. If it isn't something that fits in with your lifestyle and can be sustained for the rest of your life, reset and restart with what does so you are still being consistent on January 31.
Share how things have started for you? How can others support you throughout the month?
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