As we begin 2011, many of us use this as a time to take inventory. It is chance to review the past with a critical eye and then hopefully, leap in to surmount obstacles with constructive ideas. As the New Year ticks over, we are reminded that health is on the priority list.
Whether that means a resolution to quit smoking, join the gym, or simply to attempt a better diet, all are commendable. Regardless of the resolution chosen, a challenge is ahead.
When facing any challenge, it is a good idea to prepare oneself. Start by getting information about your challenge. Some go to the library, others just Google it.
Know your options in how to deal with your obstacles. Don’t be too embarrassed to ask for help. There are trained professionals ready to assist you.
Next, find your motivation.
Why do you want to change something about your life? If you pursue a lifestyle change just because it is trendy, the chances of success are less than motivation based on core values.
If long term health and quality of life are important to you, it becomes a matter of course to do what it takes. Of course, pain and suffering can be motivating, but I like to think these are not necessary. It is wise not to wait until the body is so broken that it is very difficult to fix.
Preventative medicine is worthwhile.
Then, build a plan. Change is difficult for everybody. Adjusting one’s lifestyle in baby steps does tend to stick better than trying abrupt sweeping changes. Anyone can be determined and focused for a short period of time, but real change is more than an exercise.
Set realistic goals. It is stressful to take on a New Year’s resolution. Recognize it is a stress and try not to set yourself up for failure. Asking too much of yourself only reinforces a sense of low self-esteem and makes you identify with failure.
For example, a 27-year-old female, S.M., wanted to quit smoking. Three years in a row, she would promise to quit smoking cold turkey style. Each year, her resolve lasted two weeks and ended in failure. She had a long list of excuses as to why it was too hard to quit for good. On the fourth attempt, she decided to cut her cigarette consumption by half. Going from 20 cigarettes per day to 10, didn’t make her a non-smoker, but her sense of achievement at succeeding at her goal really boosted her self esteem. She was pleased at her ability to maintain her reduced consumption for a whole year. This year, she gets by on three cigarettes daily, and she is convinced that it is only a matter of time before she becomes a non-smoker. Instead of dreading her challenge, she now looks forward to accomplishing it.
If you want to be successful at your New Year’s resolution, I suggest that you get information, find your motivation, build a plan, and set realistic goals. You can make your life what you want it to be and great health can be yours.
Go for it!
Dr. Tara Macart and her husband Jonathan own Opti-Balance Naturopathic Medicine in Qualicum Beach