Putting some Resolve in my New Year's Resolutions

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I donít normally make New Yearís resolutions, mainly because my history of sticking to them past the first week or two of January is pretty bleak. The times when Iíve actually been successful at changing my behavior (especially behavior related to eating and exercise) didnít begin with a special date or a resolution for the new year. They began when I realized I was in trouble, and finally had to acknowledge that I really needed to start changing my behavior NOWóno more putting things off, even for a few days.

This year, I find myself in that kind of situation today, which also happens to be Jan. 1. So, I figure I might as well take a little time to write down exactly what it is that I think needs to change, and some ideas about how Iím going to make those changes happen.

In the past 21 months, Iíve regained a little over 40 of the 170 pounds I lost six years agoódefinitely enough to make me physically and emotionally uncomfortable. How this happened is no mystery. In March of 2009, I had surgery to replace a bad aortic valve, followed in short order by another week in the hospital to cure a hospital-acquired infection, a problem with low blood pressure that caused frequent fainting episodes and led to a broken ankle, and the re-appearance of some old problems with recurring major depression. I went from being very active physically to being almost completely inactive for months at a stretch. And when Iím depressed, the major food group in my diet is chocolate; the other one is peanut butter.

The good news is that, at this point, Iíve stopped beating myself up for regaining this weight, and Iím finally in good enough shape medically to get myself back on track. But over the last several weeks, Iíve really been struggling with getting myself back into a healthy routine. I seem to be bouncing back and forth between trying to do too much at once (eg, a three hour hike in the local mountains almost every day) or not doing much at all, because Iím frustrated over how much my fitness has declined from where it was. Or over how the scale isn't cooperating with my expectations. And when thatís how I feel, itís really hard to make it through the checkout line at the grocery store without grabbing a bag of M&M Peanuts (or two).

So, it looks to me like my first priority is to work on adjusting my attitude. I need to focus on where I am and what I can do today, without comparing that to where I was two years ago. And I need to remind myself that this is NOT all about big calorie deficits and fast changes in the number on the scale. Itís about reconstructing a way of life thatís healthy, rewarding, and helps me feel good about being in my own skin, whatever the scale says.

For me, "going on a diet" and letting the scale determine whether I'm succeeding just doesn't work. When the scale doesn't give me the number I'm looking for, my motivation disappears (for more about this, check out this article). But healthy eating and physical activity make me feel better about myself and my life, and that gives me the ability to pass up those candy bars on the way out of the store.

At this point, I think I need to re-discover what specific kinds of activities actually make me feel good and empower me to make good choices on a reasonably consistent basis. I know what worked before, and I know what ďoughtĒ to work, in theory. But thatís not necessarily whatís going to work for me today. To find out what will work, I need to do some experimenting and observe how different choices, activities and approaches actually affect my feelings and thoughts, and either boost my motivation and resolve to treat myself well, or diminish them.

So, my first resolution for this new year is to spend a little time every day in January keeping a journal where Iíll make notes about what I did (or didnít do), what I ate, and how these choices made me feel. Once a week or so, Iíll go through these notes and see what conclusions I can draw about strategies and activities that will work best for me. Iíll let you know what I find out in future blogs.

How about you? What strategies are you using to keep your attitude in good shape even if the scale doesn't cooperate?

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Just discovered you on SPARK and just in time to give me inspiration and common sense to get me going for 2011. Had a successful loss of 40 lbs during the last half of 2010 and plan to drop even more this year. Your comment about journaling struck a nerve and I'm going to dig out one of my many books/journals and complete one, then proceed to the next. I do a blog with some close friends that helps me as well, but plan to use it to my advantage even more this year.

Looking forward to more words of wisdom and your charming humorous perspective on life as well as your honesty. Report
Coach Dean it is so nice to see your blog! I can't tell you how many articles I read by you that have helped me along my journey! That said, I don't let the scale rule me why that is I can't say because I don't know! I still track my food and this past holiday season was stressful food wise. I also didn't get much exercise which didn't help me. I am on this journey with my sister and we seem to help each other with our attitudes and of course there is that little secret called SparkPeople.com that helps both of us. Report
THANK YOU for sharing your struggles and your battle back from the unhappy place! Lots of us have been in the same place you are, and lots of us failed in turning things around. If you can do it, any of us can as well. Best of luck to you...looking forward to more updates as you move forward. I'm working to turn around a Christmas funk and it seems to be working this time. Focusing on my goals for 2011 (some multi-sport events I want to do) is really helping me.
COACH DEAN, we love you. Thank you for coming back here to Spark while on your journey. It is very encouraging to hear that even the experts are still struggling sometimes. Having had a few missteps myself of late, I'm tiptoeing back. One thing I'm trying is simplifying. I'm still interpreting what that means to me, but I'm on the brink of some really interesting stuff.

Stay with the uncomfortable feeling, and keep on journaling.

My attitude is that I'm in charge. The scale will eventually show that because it simply has to. Report
Thank you for this blog, Coach Dean. A lot of us are suffering from physical and emotional difficulties, but they are eased with the help of our friends. I wish you a successful day and another and another until you feel you are back in control. Report
thanks for this wake up call! I too have been suffering from attitude and motivational deficit, and it's showing on my waistline. It feels frustrating when you try to do everything right and see no results. i console my disappointment with chocolate and icecream. this of course, excells the downward spiral -- and the holiday season didn't help me much, either! My resolution this year is to make healthy choices and to try to feel good about myself, no matter what size I am, as long as I'm keeping healthy habits. Now, thanks to you, i'm going to add Positive Attitude to my list. Report
Welcome back Coach Dean! You've been missed!
Good luck on your journey back to good healthy lifestyles! Report
I cannot thank you enough for your candid observations. Reading your blog is helping me to get myself together. I appreciate you! Report
Welcome back. I am certainly glad to see you above the major depression line once again. As one of the co-founders of DWD and a leader for many years, you know I'm aware of some of the things those like us can go through.

My MD seems to flair up 2-4 times a year and the progress I've made seems to disappear. When I get back in control, getting back on the bike, taking a brisk walk through the park, jumping in the pool for a workout are very hard to do.

When you started having physical, them emotional, problems, well, ever since then you've been on my mind and in my prayers.

I'm pretty sure you have a bigger support system here then you know, and you better know that ALL of us are supporting you. Report
Coach Dean, it is so good to hear from you! I have missed you. Report
Coach Dean, it is indeed great to see you blogging here as I have always thought your approach was honest, forthright and very real. I know you will succeed in getting back on track and we look forward to taking that journey with you. Report
Coach Dean, it's so good to see you back on the blogs and posting again! You have always been an inspiration to me, both in your highs and lows, so I just want you to know that I'm rooting for your continued good health. I know what depression can do to your motivation, as it's affected me as well. I am not, however, going to let it keep me from doing what I know I have to do to get healthier, stronger and leaner in this new year. Since I actually lost a little bit of weight over the holidays, I'm using that as a motivator to keep me on track, and to even try harder in the coming days, weeks and months. So, keep up the good work, do what you feel you have to do to stay on track, and know that we're all cheering you on! Report
Here's to the here and now and each step going forward. I always appreciate what you write because it is always always so real - you never pretend that this healthy life stuff is easy or automatic and yet you have helped me find the doable part. So here's some encouragement back to find the doable pieces - one at a time, day by day with an occasional peanut m&m thrown in for a tasty break. Report
I am always looking for patterns in life - I feel as though they are a "sign" that I need to pay more attention to what is being "said." Lately, I've picked up on a thread (theme) that I've now also read in Coach Dean's article (so thanks, Coach, for continuing the thread for me). The theme is starting over, and how difficult it is to do when you know you were once further along in your journey than you are now. For example, I hadn't run since December 6th. Though I'd been to the gym, done some elliptical and strength-training, I hadn't actually hit the pavement, until today. My run was over 40 minutes for 5k, four minutes slower than "what I used to be able to do," in early December. Well, the point is that I GOT BACK IN THE GAME. No comparisons to my past performances are necessary at this juncture. Just the fact that I ran today is a big plus. The old adage from AA rings true: One Day At A Time. Until it becomes rote. No mental beatings necessary. Report
Good thoughts, Dean. As one who is faced with chronic health problems, finding a reason to keep doing all the "right things" for health and well being and feeling good about myself is a challenge. I have to find a reason to exist that is bigger than "me." Journaling is a good tool. Thanks for staying in the fight. It helps us all. Report
Such a great article. Thank you so much for sharing and for reminding us all to be patient, sane, kind to ourselves and reasonable about this journey. I think your approach is wonderful. Wishing you the absolute best. Report
I've missed your posts. Glad to hear you're on the mend. Report
I have been wondering how you were doing. I have been praying for you to come out of your depression. Surgery can certainly do a number on us!

May God bless your efforts to be healthier!!! Report
thank you for this blog. Report
Thank you for such an honest article. I feel as if I have just read what I have been trying to write for the past few weeks. I too suffer from various medical ailments (although nothing as serious as yourself) and eat to "make me feel bettrer" but this is a vicious circle. You feel bad, you eat, this makes you feel bad again and you eat some more. You stand on the scales which makes you feel worse than ever, so I have started the 28 day workout challenge and vow to get back on track without any more excuses. I am the reason I am overweight (with the help from some medications) and I am the one to correct it all. When (not if) I get rid of this excess weight I am hoping to get off of most of my meds and start enjoying everything life has got to offer. Good luck to you and best wishes for a successful 2011. Report
Hey Coach,

You've got company...! I've been backsliding since the onset of winter and the lack of my cycling "high" has been spiraling my mood, fitness and eating habits ever downward. It's been an all-too-sudden slippery slope...more like a CLIFF!

Finally becoming frightened enough to do something about it also. I know that the crux for me is living a rich, full life. That is the antidote to the yawning pit of despair and eating myself into oblivion! I am going to do my utmost to seek out people and activities which breathe LIFE into my day-to-day existence!

Plus getting back to the basics which have always worked for me: LOTS of water, daily cardio, bulking up on non-starchy veggies, cutting the processed, sugary carbs out of my food choices and sticking to the food tracker like GLUE!

I want to be ready this spring to get on my bike and FLY! :-)

Don, Co-Leader of All Health Professionals, Binghamton Area Losers and Laid Off But Staying Strong SparkTeams Report
So sorry you've had health and depression troubles. (The same sort of thing happened to me in the last year.) But so glad you're able to move forward, one step at a time, from where you are now. Please know that you help so many people with your honest and clear writing, which is among the very best of Spark People's offerings. Hang in there and know that many people are cheering you on and eager to hear how you're doing. Thank you for sharing your life's journey with us. May 2011 be your best year yet! Report
Wow really struck home. Good luck. Report
You sound like so many of Us!!
Thanks for writing such a good blog.. Report
Great to have another post from you, Coach Dean!!! Thanks for sharing! Report
You seem like a great guy! I know your pain. Gained back 120lbs and I am now done beating the crap out of myself and ready to get busy being healthy! Report
It's great to have you back. You're like a member of my family (it's a good thing!). Thank you for sharing your experiences so frankly. It means a lot to me. I'll look forward to hearing from you again. :-) Report
I agree. It is about the attitude. It is not a number on the scale that determines our success or failure.
glad to see you back. good luck. remember, we need you to lead us.
what would you say to one of us if we wrote the above to you and asked for your help? Report
Funny timing I just read this, after I posted a blog mentioning my own new strategy of just spending a littl emore time with myself in journal form! :) I have been feeling really anti-social Spark-wise, not blogging, not spending time with my teams or anything - which is the opposite of how I was previously! So I'm just working with the internal-leanings I'm feeling lately, and using it to be a little more reflective. I'm really looking forward to it :) Report
Oh my, you sound just like me! This article really spoke volumes to me and i'm gonna save it so i can read it everyday to keep my motivation up, thanks so much! Report
I love what you wrote about what has worked in the past to lose the weight may not work this time around. I have gained back 25 pounds of the weight I had lost 4 years ago and I was trying to use the same tactics as before, without success. I thought it was me-- not using enough discipline and working hard enough. It makes sense that as we grow and change our approach to life, and all aspects of it, will need to change as well. Thanks for the words of wisdom!! Report
Thanks, Coach Dean, for blogging. I am one of many who, like you, have found health issues threatening to erase a new healthy lifestyle. I gain courage from you. Report
It's good to see you back. My stressors are different, but I find myself in a similar situation. 2010 wasn't a very good year for me, food or exercise-wise. Some orthopedic problems interfered with exercise in the early part of the year, followed shortly after by my husband's deployment to the Middle East. With a full-time job, a house, and two teenagers, there hasn't been much time for me, but, God willing, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. My husband is due back in 7 weeks. I'm working on re-establishing good, realistic habits too. Report
Measuring tape, how clothes are fitting and my favorite compliments from others. The scale is a tough critic. I try my hardest to see him only weekly.

Anne Report
Boy, Dean, did you really get in my kitchen with this! I lost about 70 from 4/09 - 4/10. Then, we relocated to another state, our baby left for college, I changed jobs to a much more stressful situation and my husband began traveling with his job! Wow! My wonderful cheerleaders are now 500 miles away and I work so much, I don't take time to make friends here. In the last 6 months, I've regained 25 lbs and want to GET OFF THIS TRAIN FAST! It is discouraging to compare activity (I ran 4 1/2 marathons from 11/08 - 3/10), eating patterns and coping skills. Like you, I've decided to quit comparing and begin repairing my attitude!
Thanks for the encouragement and thanks for sharing!
DeAnna Report
My two favorite foods are chocolate and peanut butter! haha
but I really enjoyed this, thanks so much! Report
My attitude is best when I don't use the scale as an indicator of health or fitness at all. My jeans size and my energy level are my guides. If my size is down, my sleep is good, and my energy levels are at a fairly constant hum, I'm good. Not coincidentally, my resting heart rate, cholesterol splits, and perceived level of satisfaction on a 10-point scale are excellent when the aforementioned values are in line. Report
Sometimes the getting started is the hardest part of the solution but it sounds like you have a good plan! I am glad to hear that your health has improved and you are ready to give it another shot. Good luck! Report
One day at a time. the journal is a great idea. Report
Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your story. It is so easy to talk myself into believing I'm the only one. I am not a heart patient but five years ago I recieved the most unwelcome news that my declining health and chronic pain was due to a incurable but manageable genetic disorder and I also had to deal with a change in my reality similiar to yours. Once again, thank you for the inspiration! Report
everyone says new year . new you . and they start to diet or stop eating certain groups of foods . this never works . soon you tire of the diet and not eating of those loved foods and back to the old habits . same old same old me . lets try something different this year . lets watch and eat better . cut back on sugars and white avoid high fat foods . with these changes we can slim our blotted bodies and get into better shape then we have every been . move at least an hour daily . .. Report
thanks for sharing this with us, and good luck Report
I felt almost the same way!

I had a great success with Spark last year, losing twenty pounds in three months and kickstarting my journey towards losing 108 pounds. But by May, I'd hit a plateau that seemed to never end, and by August, I found myself in a lot of emotional, financial, and physical situations. I was diagnosed with pericarditis, entered a lawsuit with my school over their "accidental return" of my federal loans (causing me to owe them for tuition due to their own negligence) and my father fell ill as well.

January 1st is also my birthday! So as I turned 26, I thought all day about how great it would be to get back on Sparkpeople, readjust my attitude again about my weight, and get back to where my healthy lifestyle and losing weight was all simply a part of life.

Thanks for the article...you helped confirm I'm definitely back in the right place. Report
So glad to have you back, Coach Dean! I discovered your blog posts and articles about a year ago - it's been exactly one year that I have been on SparkPeople as of today - and they really made a difference in my life. I had come from a position of feeling angry at the injustice shown by this culture to those of us who have weight struggles and don't quickly/easily/effortlessly respond to pat solutions proffered by those who would; sometimes for a price. But, your take on "Tough Love" and other orientations towards problems and obstacles has impacted on me, by degrees. I have blogged and blogged (still do), I have joined the Community Team, I have tracked, I have grubbed SparkPoints (even when I did not want to interrupt my busy day), and I have found that not only do you get out exactly what you put in; but you get more than what you put in when you reach out to others.

May you have a blessed New Year! Report
coach dean, if i didn't know better, i'd say you sound exactly like one of my good girlfriends. it is SO refreshing and dare i say "mind blowing" to get this perspective from someone of the er, male persuasion.

i too, went through something similar this past fall when i developed a fairly debilitating case of shingles on my scalp, forehead and upper eyelid. from the end of october through basically thanksgiving, the headaches and "brain spasms" alone made me not want to do anything that required ANY sort of light--artificial or otherwise. the pain Rx schedule and 2-weeks of follow up Tx (for a total of 6 weeks when all was said and done), just absolutely SUCKED--kinda like have the life drained out of you. so i completely get the whole "been out of it" scene which ALSO sux. and like you and think i need to approach this thing from another direction and simply acknowledge that i can't just jump back in and pretend that i haven't been able to work out consistently for the past 2 months. besides, once the adrenaline, sertonin and other positive neurotransmitters wear off--your body is looking at you accusingly and asking "and you did this WHY??" SO not worth it. Report
Very sorry about your problems, but it is a help to know I am not the only one, I lost 55 lbs with WW 3 years ago and was doing great within 10 lbs of goal, totally fell apart, quit exercising and eating right, now I have been with SP for a year and haven't lost anything, seems I start over about 3 times a week! I am sorry to say I am 2 lbs higher than my previous highest wt! Report
I believe in mourning the loss of your former physical self is appropriate as well as figuring out your current capabilities. Perhaps some professional advice could be sought from a trusted medical advisor (MD, PA, PT). You may not be able to regain the level of activity you once did and coming to terms with that will help. You will, however, be able to do something and making a specific plan to get to this new "normal" may be just what you need.
Your willingness to share this journey is appreciated.
Wishing you patience, persistence and fulfillment in this new year.
Barbara Report
Thanks so much for your blog! Your honesty and great attitude motivate me! I can identify with so much of you said... even thought my physical problems and weight regained are nothing compared to yours, a similar attitude of discouragement had me backsliding a lot!! But we CAN do it.... with the support of all the wonderful SP!!
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