An Everyday Guide to Resolutions
My first column for 2014 for EDGE and the link to the edited version that was published.
It’s a New Year. A New You, right? That’s what they say, isn’t it? The New Year’s Resolution is a practice dating back centuries, to the ancient Babylonians, the Romans, the Knights of the Middle Ages. People of varying religions and cultures have had their individual spin on the practice over the years; and, still, it is reported that the percentage of people who succeed at their New Year’s Resolution falls, generally, around 8%. Not even ten percent: EIGHT. I think the chances of increasing that number are good, with a little guidance and focus. Though most people resolve to be healthier (work out, lose weight, stop smoking), some of these resolutions are financial, others may be work oriented, some could be to relax more or spend time with the loved ones. The truth is, whatever the resolution, a person can achieve their goals. It just takes a little work.
Recognize that every day is a new opportunity. I make resolutions throughout the year; why wait until January 1st? There is no bad time to improve your life. Since every day is an opportunity, each day that you wake up and make an effort, however small, puts you one step closer to reaching your goal. It doesn’t matter if you ate a piece of cake at last night’s party. Don’t quit just because of that! That was last night; and it was just a piece of cake. Today is a day that you can spend eating right. This moment is your life.
In personal training, we are taught to guide our clients to having SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time – Bound. Before you make any resolution, make sure that you aren’t setting yourself a task so intimidating that you cannot make it happen: that’s dangerous because the emotional and psychological reaction to perceived failure will send you face first into a bottle, a pie, a carton of cigarettes, a shopping spree or any other self-medication that comforts you when you’ve been beating yourself up. My trainer taught me to count my reps in sets of five – you can do anything for five reps. So set yourself achievable short term goals, by the day, the week or the month – chances are that, after four weeks, you will notice the progress that you have made and be spurred on, so much the harder.
Speaking of progress… I keep notebooks for everything. Money earned/spent, food consumed, workouts, days sober. It is a tangible and visible way for me to know that I’m doing it! My calendar tells me when to train each day, when to eat, how many days it’s been since my last cigarette, my last drink, when the next circuit party is. I am doing it – and for nobody but myself. When you are aware that it’s something you’re doing for yourself, you want to do it more, especially, when you have visibly charted proof of results!
You don’t have to do it alone, by the way. Involve your husband, your best girlfriend, a family member, to take the journey with you (and please remind yourself that it is a JOURNEY… results are not an overnight thing; enjoy the journey of being kinder to yourself). If you have someone training with you, dieting with you, not smoking with you, saving money with you, you will feel the support and camaraderie. Hell, you can even get an app to do your resolution with you! You are never alone.
When I was losing 60 pounds through diet and exercise, I craved Cheetos… No kidding… Every day. I told myself, though, that I was doing this for me, that I had eaten plenty of Cheetos in my life and that, when I was in shape, the Cheetos would still be there. By the time I got to my fighting weight, I didn’t crave Cheetos anymore. The point is: do it for yourself, believe in yourself, take it a day at a time and ask for help when you need it. This is to make your quality of life better. This is just for you.
What if re-incarnation isn’t real and this is the only go-round you get? Make it count, now.