What? New Year’s is still 2 weeks away. Why are we talking about resolutions now? The fact is, if you want to make changes to your lifestyle for the betterment of your health and wellness, there’s no time like the present. Want to stop smoking? Today’s the day. Start an exercise program, how about now? Lose a few pounds? Well, maybe that one can wait until after the holidays. Can you remember last year’s resolutions? Most of us probably can’t. The fact is that many of us make resolutions that we simply don’t keep. Changing your habits is how you make real lifestyle changes that can actually transform your life.
If you really want to improve your health, make the decision to do just that. There’s no need to wait, you can start today.
Choose a goal that’s attainable. Many of us set unreachable goals when we are just beginning a new eating or exercise plan. Instead of attempting a 5k run, walk for 15 minutes a day and gradually increase your time, speed and distance. If you need to lose 20 pounds, set a goal to lose 2 pounds. When you reach that goal, set another to lose 2 more pounds until you reach your ultimate goal.
Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. We often think in terms of what we “have” to do as opposed to what we “get” to do. Once you change that mindset, you’ll start to feel more positive about your goals. Try it, it works. You “get” to go for a walk today and enjoy the benefits of being outdoors and maybe even socialize with a friend. You “get” to have a delicious healthful salad for lunch. This kind of attitude feeds your body as well as your soul.
It’s really mind over matter. The more you tell yourself that you’d like to exercise or eat better, the more excuses you can find not to do it. Talking to yourself in a mirror actually helps to motivate you. Next time you’re thinking that you should be exercising but you’re really sitting on the couch watching TV and eating chips, get up and look in the mirror and have a little talk with yourself. When you put your face on it, the “I want to work out, but I’d rather sit on the couch,” mentality can morph into “I want to work out, so I’m going to do it right now.”
There’s a huge difference between motivation and discipline. Many of us have a hard time staying motivated. If you were to ask any professional athlete or prima ballerina how they realized their dreams it’s doubtful they would say they were motivated to do it. No, it takes discipline and a lot of it. It takes discipline to take ballet class every day and master those triple pirouettes. It takes discipline to swim laps in a cold pool at 5:00 a.m. So even if you don’t plan to become a pro, you can be at the top of your own game with discipline, which is really just self-control. Discipline is a mindset that’s habit forming. When it comes to many things in life, discipline is a very good thing to master.
Make a commitment to yourself. No one else can lose weight or exercise for you. Obvious, but true. Making a commitment to your health is the first step and that step is often the hardest. But go ahead and take it and then take another. Repetition becomes a pattern and patterns become routine. Once you have a routine, you no longer need to put energy into thinking about it, you just do it and can save your energy for your workout.
What’s your mantra? Yogi’s use a personal mantra when they meditate to clear their minds. Set your own mantra, write it down and paste it where you will see it every day. It can be as simple as “Walk today” or “Ride my bike” or “Have an apple instead.” Whatever it is, use it as a reminder until eating well and exercising simply become good habits.
While last year’s resolutions are long forgotten, with the right mindset and a bit of discipline, you can ring in the New Year knowing that you are already well on the way to a healthier lifestyle. When your friends ask what your resolutions are, you can just smile knowing that you are already enjoying the nourishing benefits that good health habits provide. Happy New Year!