January 19, 2011
With every New Year, people make promises to themselves like eating healthier and getting more exercise. More often than not, those resolutions fall by the wayside by the time February rolls around.
The big question is, how do we keep our resolutions throughout the New Year? How do we make that promise become a lifestyle change for the better? Dr. David Spiegel, professor and associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford School of Medicine, says it's as easy if you keep the following things in mind:
Understand that changing is hard to do.
In an article written by Raina Kelley for Newsweek in early 2010, Dr. Spiegel points out that we've "built communities that set up reinforcement of bad behavior." Simply put, it's easier to be bad.
Fast food is easily available and it's easier to take the elevator than the stairs. It's a simple fact. But when you admit to yourself that the extra weight you might be carrying around could make life harder for you down the road, walking from the back of the parking lot might not be such a bad option.
Rather than tell yourself, "I won't eat pizza," make your resolutions about what you will do. "I'm going to find healthy food I like."
Making your resolutions positive keeps you from focusing on that pizza as something you can't have. Instead, it helps you find other choices to take its place.
In other words, don't bite off more than you can chew. Sure, you can tell yourself you'll go to the gym every day, but is that realistic? Instead, plan to go to the gym twice a week to start. If it becomes fun, make it more often. Instead of losing 50 pounds, try losing a pound a week.
Getting back on track is much easier when your resolution is simple, and if you break it, just get back up and go at it again.
Work on your resolution with people who will stay positive too.
Frustration is a big part of why resolutions don't work. If you miss a workout, or you slip up and eat pizza, don't beat yourself up over it. Stay positive! And find a friend who will pick you up and get you going. You can do the same for him or her and work on your resolutions together.
Dr. Spiegel suggests that you, "Discover things you like about the changes you started to implement and don't take it for granted." If you lost five pounds, take a good look at what losing those five pounds has done for your health and what that means for your health down the road. And while you're at it, take a good look at yourself in your skinny jeans.
New Year's resolutions are hard to keep. But by staying positive, keeping it simple, and finding a friend to help you out, you can keep healthy and well into the New Year and after.