2022 Happy New Year! Will it truly be a new year, new you? or just same old, same old? We start off every new year with high energy and plans for new beginnings! Plans to eat better, exercise more, start that project that we’ve been putting off etc, etc. Full of hope we start that new diet and get that gym membership. If these plans and activities survive until the end of January we would be lucky. All too soon we have relapsed into our normal state and unhealthy lifestyle.
How can we make this year different? They say that the definition of insanity is: doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result. If that’s the case then sign me up for the asylum as I’m clearly insane! Let’s see if we can figure out what to change in order to have success.
New Years Resolutions
Making New Years Resolutions is the first thing many of us do each year. On the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve we ring in the new year and wish each other all the best for the year to come. We also silently promise to do better and make resolutions to ourselves that this time will be different. That hasn’t been working out for me so this year I’ve made no resolutions. Zero.
Setting resolutions then failing to meet expectations has become so commonplace that it’s like just another event that we partake in. We have Thanksgiving, closely followed by Christmas and all the excessive eating and drinking. Not to mention the stress related to these holidays. We can’t wait for the new year to catch a break and get back to normal by instituting a “healthy lifestyle”.
Crash dieting and more exercise than usual soon drop the excess pounds and we start feeling better. All too soon this dieting and exercise starts becoming monotonous and the extra demands on our time becomes a nuisance. After losing the easy weight we start to slip and get back into our hurry scurry lifestyles. Something has to give. And it’s our newest resolutions which have not yet had the time to become habits.
What I’ve learned is that resolutions are temporary whereas lifestyle changes are more long-lasting or permanent. It seems that we make resolutions easily because we consider them to be temporary changes which we can stop at any time. I’m more interested in a lifestyle change that will lead to long-lasting changes in wellness.
This year I’ve decided to do something different. Instead of making resolutions and looking for the quick fix, I’m going for a lifestyle change. My plan is to add good habits to my daily or weekly routines. It is said that it takes 30 days to build a habit. For the first month I will add one good habit. My aim is to change to a permanent healthier lifestyle. With this in mind I will make small changes to my daily routines until they become full formed habits that I do without thinking.
For my first trick, I will do at least 20 minutes of exercise daily. I already have the habit of walking when the weather is nice. In the summer that’s not a problem and I usually walk at least 3 miles, 3-5 days a week. Now I will add stretching or yoga or basic exercises and do something every day, no matter the season. Winter is traditionally a season for slacking off because of the weather and being stuck indoors.
This should be doable and sustainable without being overbearing. I’ve found that in order to make good habits they also have to be sustainable. There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to do something unpleasant. No matter how good it is for you. Walking is a perfect example of this. It was easy to get into the habit of walking as every day is different and it is pleasant to just wander around outdoors.
So, that’s basically my plan. Keep it simple. Make small incremental changes to my daily routine until they become habitual parts of it. Easy to say now in the beginning of the year with all the excitement and willingness to change. But how can I keep it going for the rest of the year or of my life? That’s where motivation comes in.
It’s always easier to do something if you are motivated or if it’s enjoyable. To me, that’s the biggest challenge when trying to make healthy lifestyle changes. If something is enjoyable then there is no problem doing it. Exercise for the sake of exercise is boring and monotonous to most people. However, exercising while playing a sport is really fun. Some people like racket sports, others like riding bicycles. Whatever your preferences, it’s way easier to exercise when you are having fun so find an activity that you enjoy!
Another way to make exercising more fun is to do it with someone else. Apart from the social advantages, it also makes you accountable to one another. It’s not so easy to skip a session if other people are involved.
Many people however, for whatever reasons, are unable to exercise with others and so must go it on their own. These people (of which I am one) have the most difficulty maintaining a lifestyle change like an exercise program. We have to be self-motivated. This is the biggest problem because we are all really good at fooling ourselves. We can find all kinds of excuses to get out of doing anything. The trick here is to find something important to motivate you so that no excuses can work on you. If you want something badly enough, nothing can stop you!
My motivation is that I will be 60 in a few months. Where has all that time gone? I’ve had an absolute blast in life so far! But I have an 11-year-old daughter that I’d like to see grow up, and In the last 2 years I’ve had cardiac bypass surgery and removed my gall bladder. I feel great now but have lived a rough and wild life and have not been exercising or eating as I should in recent years. Time for a lifestyle change. I’ve been dabbling with my wellness for the past few years but now it’s time to get serious.
I’ve decided to write some blogs, to help me more than anything else, as I start this journey. Just an average Joe trying to improve himself physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. So wish me luck and hopefully my journey can help others in similar circumstances. Until next week (another habit I’m trying to build is to write a blog every week). We’ll see how that goes.
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