“New year, new me,” right?
Not so fast. It can be extremely easy to get caught in this philosophy as January comes around. It’s like everyone is ready to make big changes to their lives for the year ahead.
The beginning of the year is when everyone seems to be fixated on that healthy diet they are about to go on, the exercise plan they are about to start, or the weight that they want to lose or gain. The gym is absolutely packed, it seems as if everyone is embarking on a new “clean eating” diet plan; they’re guzzling their green juices, tracking what they are eating, and getting in detox mode from the holidays.
However, the most common New Years resolution, and also the one that is most easily broken, is to lose weight and get fit. In fact, a third of people that make New Years resolutions break them by the end of January.
Don’t get me wrong, the new year can be great for inspiring yourself to reset and fuel your body with healthy nutrition after the holidays. You may have a goal this year to improve your health, whether you are focusing on exercise, nutrition, or other aspects of your personal wellness. If you are determined to make a healthy change in your life and make your resolution stick for good this year, you should keep these things in mind.
First things first, make sure that you get specific. Instead of saying, “I am going to eat healthier,” try saying something like “I’m going to make half of my plate vegetables at dinner,” or “I am going to go meatless one day a week.” By focusing on small, manageable changes, it will be easier to have success in sticking to your resolution, and in doing so, you will find that you will also have more success in reaching your over-arching goal.
Set milestones. Break your goal up into increments and steps, that way you can focus on one piece at a time. In order to be successful, it is important that you don’t feel overwhelmed by your goal. Each time you achieve one of your milestones, reward yourself. Treat yourself to something that brings you joy, and this will motivate you to keep reaching for that next milestone.
Don’t adopt an “all-or-nothing” mentality. Remember, a resolution is about progress, not perfection. If you don’t stick to your resolution perfectly, don’t beat yourself up! If you feel as if you have failed when you don’t stay impeccably on course, you are more likely to give up. Remember to cut yourself slack. If you slip, don’t throw in the towel. A small set back does not have to derail your plans. Instead, let it motivate you to get back on track.
Lastly, and most importantly, analyze your true motives. Ask yourself, “why is this goal a resolution for me?” Your true motives will ultimately shape how likely you are to stick to your goal. As you work to a healthier self, make sure that you focus on how you feel, and not how you look. Analyze that difference between wanting a healthier and happier you, or just a desire to change what’s on the surface. And whatever you do, do not compare your resolution and your goal to that of others. This is your journey, and yours alone, and no one else can define it for you.
Whatever your resolution may be, I hope that reaching to achieve it brings you joy and fulfillment. Happy Winter Quarter!
Contact Maggie Harriman at mpharrim ‘at’ stanford.edu.