Creating good habits

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year’s Day. The traditional time for fresh starts and resolutions to make this year better than the last. Do you routinely make resolutions that you can’t keep? I have done that so many times that I stopped even bothering to make them. This year I’ve decided to work on ways to make those resolutions stick.

First, realize that hanging on to our bad habits can destroy us; creating good habits can transform us. The mysterious “they” say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. So, instead of thinking of what we are going to do for an ENTIRE YEAR, maybe we should think of what we can do for the next 21 days. Ah, a much more manageable goal.

Have a specific plan. Setting vague goals, such as, “I want to lose some weight this year” or, “I would like to get in shape,” are the equivalent of resolving to find a genie to pop out of a bottle and grant you three wishes. You have to know EXACTLY what you hope to accomplish and how you are going to do it.

Baby steps. Resolving to exercise for an hour every single day when you’ve previously been a couch potato is just too much. Setting a goal of 15 minutes a day, with an eye to working up to an hour a day, six days per week, is better. Some exercise is better than none, so don’t feel your 15 minutes a day is wasted. It’s good for your self esteem to be able to say, “Yay, I exercised for 15 minutes today!” – instead of saying, “I suck; I can’t stick to my goals” and grabbing a cookie to console yourself.

Be realistic. If you HATE the gym, don’t make it a goal to go to the gym five days a week. You are setting yourself up for failure. Instead, how about making it your goal to find an exercise routine you can live with and even enjoy. Look for exercise classes or home videos that interest you. Keep trying until you find something that “clicks”.

Don’t say I will lose five pounds per week for the next six weeks. Maybe you will; but probably you won’t. How about one pound per week? Sounds like a waste of effort, doesn’t it, but remember, over the course of the year that’s an impressive 52 pounds.

Know how you plan to lose those pounds. Will you weigh and measure your food? Drink 8 glasses of water every day? Join a weight loss group? Count calories? Avoid fast foods like the plague? Give up your daily (380 calories) venti mocha frappuccino? Whatever it is, write it down and plan to do it for just 21 days. Find healthier alternatives for the things you are giving up. Really enjoy that trip to Starbuck’s every day? Research their drinks – find something less damaging and LEARN TO LOVE IT. If you start off with an attitude of deprivation, you are surely destined to fail. A positive attitude can make all the difference.

Re-evaluate your new routines after 21 days. Is this working for you? Does it need tweaked? Do you feel better? Worse? Is it still too challenging? Do you hate it? Love it? Can you do more? Should you cut it down a little? Make adjustments to your plan and get started on the next 21 days.

And since I’ve resolved to quit writing posts that are too dang long, that’s it for today. What are YOUR goals for 2009?


MizFit said...

Im working to be open to ALL that the world has to offer.

not judging.

not closing ANY option off.

happy 2009!

Tanya said...

Another great post. My only thought for the new year: to be more positive in my thinking about everything...say nicer things, think of the good things instead of the negative, and so on. Happy new year Jean!

Every Gym's Nightmare said...

Happy New Year!

Kelly Turner