Don't make last year's mistakes
As we take down last year's calendar, we often think about the successes of the past 12 months and the changes we aim to make for the new year.
At the forefront of many resolutions is our weight, our diet, our exercise habits. Many of us will head into these worthy endeavors but by the next day, week or month, most of us will have given up trying. Few will have lost weight and even fewer will maintain the loss. But why?
I would venture to guess that you have chosen a goal but forgotten the all important planning or perhaps you are focusing on the wrong thing. If you are only concerned about losing weight, it is a difficult struggle because anytime the scale does not go down, or even worse, goes up instead, you feel that you have failed. You have chosen that arbitrary finish line but have forgotten that your actions can be controlled but the scale cannot.
Why not measure success by your actions then instead of the dreaded scale? Why not begin on this journey because you want to improve your overall health? Finding reward in feeling better, having more energy, and increased self-esteem.
When you focus on improving health, you get the benefits right away. Any small change that you make is going to make you feel better and give your body a boost. If weight loss occurs as a result of your efforts, that would be a plus.
Here are a few areas you do have control over:
• What you put in your body. Set some daily goals for yourself such as getting three servings of fruits and vegetables each day (if you're currently getting less than that). Limiting soda intake to three times per week rather than one per day. The key is not to make drastic changes but to ease into it.
• Get more physical activity. You don't have to sign up for a marathon or even take up running to get healthy this year. Just get moving! Commit to walking 10 minutes twice a day, play with the kids in the yard, take the stairs at work ... whatever you choose is perfect as long as you're doing it daily.
• Take a few minutes for yourself. Self care gets overlooked too often. Stress can be a huge factor in developing hypertension, gaining weight, and killing your motivation. Take some time each day to do something you enjoy — as little as five minutes can make a big difference.
Change doesn't have to be difficult if you plan appropriately. Make sure to start with small changes so you are not overwhelmed. Research shows that you are more likely to succeed at a resolution if you add to your life rather than take away from. Add healthy foods, exercise, and time for yourself! Don't repeat last year's mistakes ... make this year your year to succeed.
Laurie Black is a professor of nutrition at Arizona Western College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.