The very best resolution for the coming year is to keep yourself healthy. The best way to do that is to eat the right foods, get plenty of exercise and control the stressors in your life. There’s nothing new about that, but if you’re like most of us, you haven’t exactly been a shining star in the past. Fortunately that can all change with a few little tricks.
You simply need to develop new habits. What gets most folks into trouble is trying to change too much too fast. It goes something like this. Let’s say you decide to go on a diet to lose extra pounds. You decide to eat salads 3 times a day, join a gym and go there 5 times a week and meditate every morning for an hour. You’re all excited, but there’s a problem right out the door that can cause all your good intentions to get flushed.
First, you rarely eat salads because you’re a meat and potatoes kind of girl. Second, the first time you go to the gym, you overdo it and your muscles, the few that you have left, tell you you’ve overdone it. Third, you’ve never spent one second using meditation techniques. In less than a month the trainers down at the gym don’t see you anymore and the lettuce in your refrigerator has turned to mulch and that book on meditation is collecting dust.
With the do it now or never behavior, it usually doesn’t get done. Instead of trying to change all the unhealthy habits in radical ways, change one small habit. For instance, you might decide to park your car in the farthest parking space at the grocery store or walk up a set of stairs every day instead of taking the elevator. You might also decide to eliminate only one unhealthy food from your diet, or add one healthy food.
To change a bad habit:
- Write down how the bad habit satisfies a need. For instance, you might say, when I eat chocolate bars, it calms me down.
- Write down why you want to change the habit. Ask yourself what the benefits are going to be by changing the habit.
- Now write down what you are going to substitute for the habit. For instance, if you think eating those bonbons calms you down, ask yourself what other activities have a calming influence. How about a luxurious lavender scented bath followed by a delicious cup of green tea and a half hour of reading your favorite magazine. Don’t have time for that? After all, you argue, it only takes a few seconds to shove the bonbons down. The bath idea will take an hour or more. Okay, try taking a few deep breaths. Do whatever works for you; just make sure it’s a healthy alternative. If you don’t replace the bad habit that is satisfying a need with something just as enjoyable or fun to fulfill that need, the bad habit will be difficult to break.
- If it’s a giant bad habit with lots of components like generally poor eating habits, pick one small portion of the bad habit and work on that. Then move to the next and then the next.
- Don’t give up and don’t chastise yourself just because you falter. The brain resists change so you may be wooed by that naughty subconscious of yours to go back to the old way of doing things. You will succeed, but it may take some time.
- Commit to changing the habit for 30 days, but measure success on a day by day basis. If you eat bonbons every day and that’s the habit you’re trying to break, celebrate every day without them.
How to develop a good habit
- If you decide you want to exercise every day, write down all the benefits of doing so. It’s important to write them down so you can read over the list frequently especially when you feel resistance in the form of “I’m too tired” or “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “It won’t hurt to watch this TV show instead, it’s just one day” or “I don’t have time.”
- Start off with manageable portions. In the case of exercise, if you’re not in the habit of getting any more exercise than walking from your computer to the refrigerator or coffee pot, commit to 5 minutes a day. Plan ways to get your 5 minutes of exercise. Decide on when you’re going to take your 5 minute walk if that’s your chosen exercise and where you’re going to walk. Have fun with it. After 30 days the habit is formed. Then increase the time. Continue doing this in 30 day increments until you’re at your goal of say 30 minutes a day. You can follow the same process if you decide to eat healthier foods. Select your favorite fruits and vegetables and commit to eating one serving each every day for 30 days. After the 30 days increase the serving until you meet your goal of at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
- Remember a setback is not a failure. Simply pick yourself up and begin again if you falter. Don’t chastise yourself, that doesn’t help. In fact, negative self talk can cause you to give up.
- If you feel yourself weakening, read your list from #1 above. See yourself vibrant and healthy with loads of energy and a beautiful clear skin. Visualize the pleasure and happiness the new habit will bring into your life.
The reason I’ve focused on the health aspects of keeping New Year resolutions is because we hear at SpaFromScratch want all our lovely divas to be healthy and happy. However, the same principals hold true for any bad habit you want to break or good habit you want to develop. It takes roughly 30 days for a habit to form. Keep that in mind when you make your New Year resolutions.
Now go have fun and relax.