By James Gucciardi, D.C.
It’s that time of year again when millions of people make a New Year’s resolution. One of the most popular resolutions, that’s broken year after year is to lose weight and get fit. Check out how crowded the cardio room is at your local gym, it’s busting at the seams!
We’re about 3 weeks into the New Year. This is where people typically start skipping work outs and fall back into old habits. If you’ve made a resolution to basically get into better shape and your resolve is starting to break, you’re not alone. Your health is so vital for living a quality life, don’t relegate it to something that has become so trivial like starting to make good choices on an arbitrary day. That’s not how it works.
resolution [res-o-lu-tion]: a firm decision to do or not to do something.
Forbes found that just 8% of people who make resolutions actually realize them. A study in 2007 by Richard Wiseman, a British psychologist and author from the University of Bristol, found that out of 3000 people who made New Year’s resolutions, 88% didn’t keep them. New Year’s Resolutions suck because they overwhelmingly lead to failure. When you fail, it can be discouraging to some and downright depressing for others. If you’re one of the few that has the will-power to keep them, stop reading. However, if you’re like the statistical majority, then read on.
Learning to develop positive habits, whatever they may be, is the ticket to becoming a better version of yourself. In fact, that could be your resolution. To practice developing good habits, because habits are automatic. Resolutions fail because they require will-power. When motivation wavers, and it surely will, you’ll have a solid habit foundation to fall back on. Opportunities to wreck your health abound in today’s world. Good habits are what keep you on the right track the majority of the time and when you veer off track, which will happen, it’s easier to right the ship. There’s very little will-power involved with habits. It’s just something you do.
habit [hab-it]: an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has almost become involuntary.
So forget superficial resolutions like lose X amount of weight. Think about something more sustainable for the long term, like slowly changing self-destructive eating habits without attaching it to some artificial start date and/or end date. Biologically, your body lives in the now. So should you. What happens when you lose X amount of pounds anyway? Then what? Learning good habits when it comes to eating promotes so much more than weight loss anyway. Flip your thinking and you might get where you wanted to go in the first place and then some.
Learning to Eat Real Food
Let’s face it, in our country, crappy food is in abundance. So if you don’t have sound habits, you’re pretty much guaranteed to gain weight easily and have a hard time getting it off and keeping it off.
And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you pretty much know that weight-loss “diets” are plentiful. It’s big business and business is good! MSN.com had an article on it’s home page last week on the best 33 diets! Or something like that. I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to tell you what to eat. Your culture and personal philosophical beliefs largely shape what you eat. While the foods and spices might be different, what is common to all healthy thriving cultures is that they eat real food. Not processed, out of a box food. You need to pick a “diet” that teaches good habits, with real foods that you like, and stick with it because it makes it sustainable over the long haul. Just look at kids today in America. They’ve inherited bad dietary habits like eating lots of processed foods, and combined it with being more sedentary than ever. They’ll pass those habits on if they don’t know any better.
So basically start with getting the majority of your calories from eating real food. Real food grows from the earth, walks on the earth, or swims in water. It is not concocted in a lab or a factory. Real food will rot if you don’t eat it relatively quickly. Processed food comes in a box or can and has a shelf life of years.
What About Moving More?
The #1 obstacle for many at achieving any fitness goals is getting your ass to show up. Pick a time of day that works for you and just show up. When it’s something you do everyday, even at a certain time, we could call that a habit. So if you never move, then decide to take 5 minutes to do some kind of movement, even if it’s taking a walk. Sure, five minutes of walking each day isn’t going to turn your body around, but what is significant is you’ve made a choice to take time out of each day for you. Consistency is key here. Even if you have to “fake it, till you make it”. The more days you string together, the more you’re reinforcing the habit until it’s just automatic requiring very little to no will-power. Small attainable goals have a much better chance at breeding success. That 5 minutes can grow and grow into a full-blown “exercise program” eventually. It’s those little things you do on a daily basis that have the greatest impact on your health.
While goals are great and necessary for us to grow, don’t focus on them. Set your goal and then focus on the process. Whether you reach your goal or not, working on and focusing on the process will make you a better version of yourself regardless as time goes by.
Life is a journey, not a destination. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others
Building habits takes time, 66 days on average according to an often cited study. But time is all you have until it runs out, so you might as well spend it wisely.
- Take the 1st step; figuratively and literally (move more).
- Only change one thing at a time.
- Once you’ve pretty much nailed that habit, move on to the next one.
- A few months later you will be a better version of yourself. I promise.
- Years later, you could be living in a totally different body. In a good way 🙂
There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs. -Zig Ziglar
I personally want to move well and just plain feel good until my last days. I want to die on my feet so to speak. Not spend the last years stuck in a chair or bedridden.
Don’t attach developing healthy habits to some sort of arbitrary time table like beginning on January 1st. I’ve got news for you…your body doesn’t know the difference. Your cells don’t know if it’s January 1st or July 1st. Every moment is an opportunity to change your life for the better. Develop good habits, screw resolutions!