opinion

New you for the New Year? NO Thanks

I vote for less New Year Resolutions and more ongoing, purposeful pursuits of happiness.

How many times already have you heard the age old saying “New YOU for the New Year” used in some form of advertising for a weight loss program, gym, health club and so on and so on…..

Being so close to New Year’s Eve many people are already planning their resolutions for 2016 and most likely the majority of resolutions include something along the lines of “I want to eat less junk, lose weight, exercise more or get healthy”. All admirable resolutions no doubt about that, however the effect is lost on me when headlines scream at us to become someone new for the New Year… I like the current version of me, I don’t want to reinvent myself because the clock turns to midnight and we are in a new year, it doesn’t make sense to me for a variety of reasons; a) if your “resolution” is to do any of the above why are you waiting for a specific date (sounds vaguely like the diet we are all going to start on Monday lol) b) there is an AWFUL lot of pressure from the media and health/health related industries to put the focus on losing weight as if that is the be-all end-all for life and in doing so will guarantee us the happiness/success we have all been waiting for and c) why should we have to become someone “new” in order to achieve what the current version of ourselves is wanting.

I am ALL for aspiring to become healthier than ever, in fact I wholeheartedly encourage it on a regular basis however I do not encourage the thought process of radically changing who we are in order to achieve some superficial, media driven and un-authentic persona.

So often society dictates to us what our “ideal” body/style/health looks like and because we are inundated with it we start to believe that our current state of being isn’t enough and we strive for unrealistic goals that aren’t even truly our own. Having goals is incredibly powerful, when carefully thought out and implemented with a plan there is no telling what you can achieve. I vote for less New Year Resolutions and more ongoing, purposeful pursuits of happiness.

Here are some common resolutions paired with a realistic version and action item

  1. Lose Weight – How much weight do you want to lose and by what date would you like to lose it (setting specific, measurable goals for yourself will help you to plan your journey to the final destination, rather than wandering blindly not knowing where you are headed.
  2. Join a gym and workout more – Do you even like the gym, or is it more of a goal you feel good for putting out there but really have no desire to become a gym rat? Becoming (more) active is beneficial in countless ways, however if you don’t currently attend a gym and haven’t previously it can be a daunting commitment of time and money. Perhaps a few group fitness classes, walking group, snowshoeing, or even recreational league sports are a better investment for you to start with, that way you can ease into fitness in a fun and social way, making it more of an activity that you enjoy rather than one you feel you need to attend. If all else fails, start taking the stairs over the elevator, park farther away, wear a step counter and set a goal for X amount of steps per day and increase as you go.
  3. Eat better – What does this even mean to you? Have you identified the areas of your eating that you are unhappy with (too many take-out meals, give up sugar, stop drinking coffee, drink less alcohol, not enough veggies in your diet etc.) or are you blindly hoping to overhaul your diet without a solid plan in place? When it comes to food, the hardest and most important step is taking the time to plan out your wants/goals and make a corresponding meal plan THAT YOU STICK TO. That means shopping with a list and sticking to the items on the list, reading ingredient labels and knowing how to understand the ingredients listed. Counting chemicals in our food rather than being consumed with the caloric content – you can always burn calories however it is substantially harder to remove chemicals from our bodies than it is to get rid of unwanted calories. If your goal for eating better isn’t just about improving your physical health and is more about losing weight, you could try eating off of a side plate rather than a dinner plate. Often our sneaky weight gain and lack of weight loss can be attributed to portion control and an easy way for us to really “watch what we eat” is to pay attention to the volume of food we consume at any given meal.
  4. Quit smoking/drinking – This is a tough one for most people as everywhere you look there are people socially smoking and drinking and who wants to voluntarily give up a good ol social gathering…. if you have tried and failed to quit before, take a look at what prompted you to quit in the first place and identify what the trigger was for you to take it up again. If you can clearly identify your “why” and spend some time daily repeating your WHY the chance of successfully ditching the dirty habit for good is higher. Knowing your WHY is great but it’s not enough. We need to understand what drives our habits in the first place, think about what has triggered you in the past to pick up the habit you kicked ( I know many smokers who have quit for years only to start again after a stressful event or a night of drinking, myself included before I quit for good). There is an incredible book that helps us to understand and therefore rewire our habitual behaviour called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg (it has been LIFE CHANGING for me and many others)
  5. Get Healthy – What aspects of your life are unhealthy and require changing or are you looking for an entire overhaul? Do you have a specific health related goal in mind to lower cholesterol, get off medications for blood pressure, drink more water and less coffee, start yoga/meditation, practice self care etc? The point is there are many ways in which we can improve our daily health, however if we do not identify specifically which areas we want to target we will not know specifically how to get there and can be left feeling defeated when unable to see a physical change ( as unfortunately at this time in society we attribute health to a physical ideal when in fact you cannot tell a persons health by looking at them). Lay out your goal(s) and identify the obstacles that you can/will be faced with along the way. By planning for interruptions or derailment we are better prepared to stay on track when met with challenging circumstances and likely will experience a bump in the road rather than an entire crash.

I hope this helps you the same way that this information has helped me transform my life, I am still a work in progress however I feel so much more prepared to deal with life when it hits me because I have plans and processes in place to keep me accountable.