Friday, December 27, 2013

How to make that New Year's Resolution Stick!

So.. Have you made your New Year’s resolution????  New Year.  New You!  Right? 

So many of us make New Year’s resolutions that involve living a healthier lifestyle/eating better/losing weight etc., but how many of us actually achieve our goals???

We all know what we WANT to achieve in the New Year, but how can we make this year THE YEAR.  How can we make sure we actually stick to the resolution this time and why is achieving that goal so hard???

If you want to make sure you achieve your goals this year, read on….. There are some things you need to think about!

Making a change is HARD.  Why is it so hard?

Have a good think about the behaviour you are trying to change, for example, eating habits, smoking, not exercising regularly.  Why is this behaviour the way it is in your life???  Does it serve a purpose?  Is it a consequence of another behaviour that you have?  Because, if you think about the causes of these behaviours, it makes sense that they are difficult to change, unless you first try to change their cause.

For example:  You binge eat as a stress release mechanism.  If you attempt to go straight on a strict diet, but do not address the cause of your binge eating, you are destined to fail, because you have just given up your stress release/coping mechanism.  The stress is still there.  What are you going to do to cope without binge eating???   To be successful in reaching your goal of eating better, you need to first work on the cause of your stress so you will have less need for your coping mechanism and also work at developing new and different coping strategies to prevent you falling back into old habits when stressful situations do arise.

Example 2:  You have trouble fitting in exercise because you work excessive hours; have no-body to watch the kids to allow time for exercise, or both!  If you promise yourself you are going to fit in exercise ON TOP of your already demanding schedule, you will last a little while, but will then probably wind up sick due to lowered immune status from lack of rest AND exhausted.  You may end up giving up your exercise because it is more stressful and tiring than it is worth.

You know where I’m coming from.  We’ve all been there!

So… Here are the steps that I recommended in order to make LONG TERM changes to habits. 

DO NO HARM – Do not do things excessively or spontaneously.  Do not go cold turkey without planning and assistance.  This could do more harm to your physical health and emotional health than good.

SEEK AND REMOVE THE EXTERNAL CAUSES – This is a big one and takes time.  As frustrating as this can be, it is better to take a long time to affect a permanent change than do something quickly and “fail” as we like to say.   This is where you need to look at why you have the behaviour you are wanting to change and start to work through it.  Many behaviours are deep seated and you may need to work this through with your practitioner, be it your GP if you have a good one, your naturopath, your personal trainer, your psychologist or even your best friend. 

Are you in a toxic relationship?

Do you hate your job?

Are you bored or under stimulated?

Do you have too much responsibility?

Are you taking on too much?

Are you always putting yourself last?

Why?  Tackle it and work on change for the better!

ATTEND TO YOUR HABIT - When you and your chosen practitioner feel you are strong and ready to let go of your habit, formulate a plan.  It is a good idea to schedule some time out, wherever possible, to begin this change.  Changing deep seated habits can be stressful and tiring and can result in physical symptoms, which when attempted whilst simultaneously trying to cope with our unbalanced and stressful lives, could wind up driving you right back to your old habit.  For example, have you ever tried giving up your one or two daily coffees???  The splitting headache is like death!  The same goes for trying to give up refined sugars or cigarettes!!  The side effects can be horrifying.  Get plenty of rest, listen to your body and surround yourself only with positive and supportive people.  Make sure you take time away from the contributors to your habit.

Make sure you schedule regular “follow ups” as part of your plan, in order to help keep you on track.

LET YOUR BODY DETOXIFY – If you are able to set aside time for yourself to make this change, it is best to let your body detoxify naturally.  For example, if you give up coffee, you may need to just sleep for days to address the built up exhaustion you have been suppressing with your coffee intake.  Giving up sugar can leave you fatigued for the same reasons.  The physical symptoms you experience are your body undertaking the adjustment process.  Let it run its course.  The more deep seated your habit is, the longer this “detoxification” process may take and the more rest/time out you may need.

CORRECT ANY FURTHER SYMPTOMS THAT ARISE – Often, as you start to work through and release one of your problems/illnesses, others resurface.  It is important to take these as they arise also, in the same steps as previously described. 

EDUCATE yourself of the best ways to maintain your new found health and prevent the recurrence of old disease or development of new disease.

Be patient.  Long-term change takes time, but it is well worth it in the end!

Good luck with your New Year’s resolution and remember: “Life is a Journey, Not a Destination…. Enjoy the Ride!”




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