Many of us make “New Year’s Resolutions” each year yet few of us successfully keep them. It is estimated that 92% of those who make resolutions actually keep them. If so many of us fail, why do we persist each year? Resolutions are such a tempting idea because they allow us to overindulge in food and underindulge in exercise with the promise of escaping the consequences. We give ourselves a “pass” by promising we will do better in the New Year. Sadly this backfires. Most people do not lose the weight they gain over the holidays. Human nature means we are much better at the “feast” and not very good at “famine.” Battling our biology is not a sustainable plan.
Resolutions are most often about adopting behaviors that promote health. To truly improve our health, we need to enrich our understanding of how we take care of ourselves. Success requires adopting and cultivating a new mindset. This new mindset is based on a greater understanding of self care and what you and your body need to feel your best. The pillars of self care are food/nutrition, exercise/movement, and sleep in proper balance. Each of these represents a powerful determinant of our health yet all of us struggle with finding the time, motivation and care to attend to them. Our mindset is a powerful aid in this quest.
Keys to a successful mindset include:
Recognizing that eating, sleeping and exercising well are all things that make us feel better. We tend to focus on how we feel before (e.g. tired and dreading the effort required) while failing to notice how good we feel after we eat a good meal, exercise, and get a good night’s sleep.
Seeing eating well and working out as things you do for yourself not as deprivation or punishment. When you understand this, you see giving up your work out, sleep, or healthy food as depriving yourself of what you need to feel better and sustain yourself. You begin to have thoughts such as “Why would I miss my yoga class? I always feel so much better afterward.”
Take the long view: You see the value in making small sacrifices now for a valued goal in the future. This means you evolve into the knowledge that eating well and not too much makes you feel much better in the long run. You realize that taking 30 minutes out of your day to exercise means you will feel better the other 1,410 minutes of the day!
You shift from viewing how you eat as a temporary “diet” and see healthy eating as the optimal choice for yourself every day. You no longer see exercise and getting 8 hours sleep as optional. They become an essential part of your day that you insist on making time for.
You lessen rigid rules and restrictions on yourself. You allow flexibility to accommodate life’s interruptions. You see each day, each meal, and each workout as a new chance to return to self care.
This all can seem daunting and insurmountable at first. Like any change in perspective, this new mindset will feel radical (and revolutionary!) at first. But if you are patient and persistent, it will become your “new normal” and will sustain itself. It all does get easier with practice and eventually becomes second nature for you. Rather than waiting until the New Year to begin, why not start now?