To Better Health: Making New Year’s Resolutions and Keeping Them!

Happy New Year! We are a week into 2013 and many people are looking forward to the many joys that a New Year will bring. Seeing as how the mistakes of 2012 have been left behind in the dust, surely you can make a fresh start for yourself in 2013. And what better way to start than by setting a New Year’s Resolution for yourself?

I’m not a big fan of the New Year Resolution. Let’s face it; most New Year’s Resolutions are doomed to failure from the start.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at any of the New Year’s Resolutions you’ve made over the past ten years. How many of them didn’t last more than two weeks? Or worse, how many of them didn’t make it out of the starting gates?

The idea of a New Year’s resolution is typically a self-replicating cycle of regret, failure and more regret because most people don’t know how to properly make a New Year’s Resolution. Below, I’m going to take a look at three typical New Year’s Resolutions that people make when they pledging to better health. Then, I’m going to explain how to make them better suit your lifestyle and put less pressure on yourself to keep these goals.

THE RESOLUTION:

“This New Year, I’m Going Back to the Gym!”

Why it fails:

Proper planning is needed ahead of time if you are going to pull this resolution off. Gym memberships cost money, and in the case of some memberships, it can be a LOT OF MONEY.

Now realize that the start of the New Year falls after the gift-giving Christmas season, where most people go overboard on spending and are left trying to balance their budgets throughout January.

Funds are typically tight and if you haven’t planned ahead, you won’t be able to afford going to the gym. And most people instantly think that  if they haven’t lived up to their New Year’s Resolution within the first month of the year, that it’s a total failure and they give up on it entirely.

Not only that, but most people like to party on New Year’s Eve and when they wake up on New Year’s Day, they are either hungover from all of the booze the night before or they are simply too tired from a crazy night of dancing and all manners of partying. How many times have you had a lazy New Year’s Day? Not exactly the best way to be starting that Resolution you’ve set for yourself.

What your resolution should be:

“This New Year, I am committing to more exercise!”

Why it works:

Committing to exercise is much easier than forcing yourself to go to the gym as of January 1st, 2013. Most people have the set-up at home to get in a decent exercise, whether it be exercise equipment, a barbell and weight bench, A set of dumbbells or even just a floor mat for floor exercises.

The beauty about the way this resolution is phrased is that it can include exercising at the gym, but it doesn’t have to. Whether you commit to going for a regular run, spending half an hour on the exercise bike gathering dust in your basement or just going for a two hour walk, you can get your exercise and physical activity in many different ways. Then when you are ready financially, you can buy a gym membership and bring in a workout routine at your own pace.

THE RESOLUTION:

“This New Year, I am going to stop drinking coffee/Pepsi/Red Bull etc.!”

Why it fails:

If you are a person who drinks a daily coffee or a daily pop, then you know that the decision to drink this daily vice can’t be turned on and off like a light switch.

The fact is, caffeine is a legal drug. It carries the same addictive qualities of many other drugs that are absolutely terrible for you (and illegal) and can develop a dependency for the person drinking them. Have you ever seen someone try to quit coffee or pop cold-turkey before? It’s not a pretty sight. People will actually start to develop withdrawal symptoms (headaches, feeling overtired, nausea, etc.)

Now, let’s go to back to that New Year’s Eve party again, where many people are binge drinking, partying and generally making an ass of themselves. Possibly you are one of these people.

Now, go ahead a little bit to the next morning. New Year’s Day. You feel like hell if you took your party a little too far and the last thing you want to do is cut off any daily habits.

Yet, people instantly think the moment they drink coffee or pop for the first time in 2013 that it’s an instant New Year’s Resolution failure. This puts tremendous pressure on the person making this pledge.

What your resolution should be:

“This year, I plan to cut back my caffeine intake!”

Why it works:

Everybody has a moment where they slip off the bandwagon. I myself have quit drinking pop a number of times and find myself drinking pop again and again. The point is, by pledging to cut back your caffeine intake, you can slowly whittle down the amount of coffee or pop that you drink in a day and manage the eventual withdrawal symptoms a little easier.

Take a measured approach to the New Year’s Resolution. Bring yourself down to one coffee a day, then change that to one coffee every two days. Keep going with this until you get your coffee intake down to a level that you are happy with.

And if you slip up and have a coffee when you are not supposed to, just remember the progress that you have made with your resolution so far and pick up where you left off. One day’s mistake should not destroy all of the efforts you have made so far.

THE RESOLUTION:

“This New Year, I’m going to go for a jog/run every single day!”

Why it fails:

This resolution is completely unrealistic. You are expecting that you will be able to commit to running every single day for the period of a year.

This isn’t Forrest Gump here. You will likely have work meetings, overtime shifts, sick days, bad weather days and who knows what other hindrances to deal with. Committing to a daily run is a noble idea, but you have to be prepared that there are going to be some days where you just CANNOT get in that daily run.

Not only that, but don’t forget about the constant physical strain that comes from running on a daily basis. If you are not a runner, your body will not be ready for the rigors of a daily run every single day. Plus, it goes against the fundamental principles of exercise, where you take rest days to allow your muscles to recover from certain exercises.

Have you ever done too much exercising too often? You get bored really quick and lose interest.

What your resolution should be:

“This year, I plan to commit to running more often!”

Why it works:

You are not setting yourself up for failure by committing to something that you have to do every day. You are simply committing to including a new exercise more often in your weekly routine.

Plus, this doesn’t force you to run in nasty weather conditions like rain or snow, which can be disastrous to your health if you slip and fall.

Your goal with this New Year’s Resolution is simple. Hit the track and start running when you can. This could be two, three, four times a week; it all depends on how much free time you have. You can even increase how often you go for a run based on how comfortable you get with running as an exercise.

 

There you have it, a look at how to make your New Year’s Resolution more manageable. More importantly, this shows how to take these resolutions and make them into a reality without putting too much pressure on yourself.

The pressure will still be on you to stick to your goals though. After all, if you are making a pledge to yourself to improve your health over the year, then the only person you are disappointing if you don’t go through with it is yourself.

the author

Jeff Johnson is a Canadian journalist and the host of GameOn here at GameNTrain. He was born in Ontario, but moved to British Columbia to learn what it's like to be attacked by deer on a regular basis. If you've got an idea for a feature story on GameOn or would like to be featured as a contibutor, simply e-mail gameongamentrain@gmail.com. You can also find Jeff on Google+ at http://www.gplus.to/jeffjohnsongnt