Resolutions? No Way! by Tessa Vining, LCSW, LCADC

Have you ever made a promise to yourself as the new year approaches – about how you will change this or that about yourself, absolutely and without question starting January 1st? Join the club! “New Year Resolutions” lead us to proclaim such things as “in 2015 I will drop 20 pounds by joining the gym and working out every day.”  Or “This is the year I will stop smoking for good.”  Much of the time we start out strong, but over time our resolve diminishes and we revert back to our old habits.

So, what’s a person to do you may ask? The answer….throw the resolutions out the window along with 2014!  Most resolutions don’t work. Why? Because they are often huge, unattainable goals without the necessary realistic action plan designed for success.

Today is the day to start by making small changes. Real change takes time so it’s important to allow yourself enough for your new habits to take hold.  It is also important to be realistic and gentle with yourself. Any change for the better puts you one step closer to your ultimate goal!

Take losing weight, for example. It’s not about just losing the weight, it’s about eating healthier, gaining strength and respecting your heart health. That’s a lot to do right? That’s why we need to break it down to small, doable goals. For the first month, do small things such as incorporate 20 minutes of movement per day; whether it’s tackling an annoying task like cleaning out the basement or getting off the bus or subway one stop earlier. In terms of food, replace white flour products with more whole grains. That’s it for that month – no more, no less. If you have a “lazy” day with zero movement or indulge in a BLT sandwich on white bread then so be it! Commit to getting back on track as soon as you can, and keep on moving.

Once some small changes become incorporated into your day-to-day life (your new “normal”), then start navigating the next small change. Increase your cardio and strength training techniques – maybe now you will join a gym or find a class you would like to take once a week. As for food, maybe we allow for treats after dinner only 2 times a week, or no snacking after 8 pm Sunday through Thursday.   Before you know it , incorporating small changes to everyday life will eventually lead to whole change when you turn back to reflect on 2015. And, if you didn’t get all the way with it? So what! Look at what you learned about yourself through the year and be proud of the work you have done.