If you hang around the internet any amount of time you’ve probably read one of the (thousand and one) articles about how new year’s resolutions are for the birds, some even implying they are for the weak and will NEVER work. I can see where they are coming from – if something is important to you why didn’t you start on March 3rd or October 17th? Why wait for January 1st as if it is a magical day? And I can see how people get excited and make resolutions even they themselves know they won’t keep (or put a bunch of “unless” or “only if” in there with it).
But in the grand scheme of things, if you are ready to make a change, January 1st is as good a day as any – what matters is the depth and commitment of your resolution… actually let’s call it a promise – a promise to yourself. Those are hard to keep because you are the only person you have to answer to and you really aren’t THAT hard on yourself when push comes to shove So I offer a few tips for your NEW YEAR’S PROMISE:
Make it unbreakable! Do not stand for cheating, excuses, what-ifs. If your promise is to workout 6 days a week to better your health, hold yourself to 6 days. If you know in your heart that you won’t keep that promise then amend your promise… maybe you should promise yourself 3 days a week BUT do NOT settle for anything less than what you have promised yourself. If you promised to follow a certain healthy diet 7 days a week but you know you will cave sooner or later, amend your promise to be 6 days a week that you absolutely will not bend on your promise. Once you break that promise, it just doesn’t matter any more, you’ll break it again and again.
Make it something you have control over! You have absolutely no control over a promise that says “I will lose 10 pounds”, but you can control a promise that says “I will eat healthy meals 6 days a week and workout 3 or more days, no exceptions”. You may lose the 10 pounds by doing that, but there is a big difference.
Be accountable! Maybe you should tell a few people about your promise so you have other eyes watching It is better to make your promise flexible enough that you never have to “mess up” but if you do, there is no sense dwelling on it or punishing yourself for it, BUT I also think there is benefit to owning up to it and acknowledging that you could have done better work to keep your self-promise, picking yourself up and resolving to try harder! For me, my self-promises are as much about integrity and strength of character as they are about health.
Make a promise that you are ready for and excited about! Making changes is not always fun but they can be exciting – just the thought of following through with a promise to yourself is pretty exciting If you are not ready to give up all sweets and sodas and processed foods at once, don’t make the promise. Maybe your promise should be more like cutting back to 3 sweet treats a week and only 1 soda a day and re-evaluating any further changes every few weeks. I do not enjoy running, not sure why but I don’t, but at some point last year I promised myself I would learn to run and my first promise was to work up to 15 min without stopping. When I got there I re-evaluated and decided I’d like to work up to 30 minutes. This took a while but I got there, and while I did not find the running fun, it was exciting to know I was meeting a challenge I’d set for myself! I decided my further running efforts would max out at 20 minutes because I enjoy other exercise more BUT the promise was challenging and exciting and I KEPT IT.
PS – my weight loss journey started January 4th – it was not a New Year’s Resolution, I’d actually decided to take this journey around October of the previous year, but I knew that I would not be ready for the major eating changes I was planning without first getting through the holidays. So, I declared Jan 4th as my start date…. it worked for me