11 January 2010

Those New Year resolutions

What is it about the start of a New Year that causes people to make mental lists of how they are going to change radically? Is it the hope that change is possible?

"I often take exercise. Why only yesterday I had breakfast in bed" Oscar Wilde

What is it about the start of a New Year that causes people to make mental lists of how they are going to change radically? Is it the hope that change is possible? A clean slate? Or is it just simply amnesia?

But then the difference between last year's resolutions and this year's is that this year we really plan to make them happen....

Sound familiar? By April everyone hopes to be thin as a beanpole, fit as a fiddle, sober as a judge and with lungs that would make a newborn jealous. So why do most of us end up wracked with guilt by February?

The reasons are twofold :firstly, our goals are unrealistic and secondly, we don't deal with the underlying reasons that led us to behave like that in the first place.

No-one ever wakes up one morning and thinks "By the end of the year I want to smoke 60 cigarettes a day" or "I would really like to see how many sizes I can go over a 38 by Christmas". So how does one go about making these resolutions happen?

Losing Weight

"I am on a grapefruit diet. I eat everything except grapefruit." Chi Chi Rodriguez

Be honest with yourself about the things in your life that cause you to overeat. Are they social, emotional or purely out of habit? Take steps to deal with emotional problems that underlie the role food might play in your life.

Accept that you would have to eat less or exercise more to get rid of those unwanted pounds. Or both. Don't expect to lose in one week the weight it took you 18 months to put on. Be kind to your body and do it slowly, otherwise you only slow down your metabolism.

Make sure you are never hungry, because that is when you are tempted to eat fattening snacks that are readily available.

Limit starch to the first 2 meals of the day. Eat your main meal as early as possible in the day. Reduce your fat intake and up your intake on those fruit and vegetables. Drink lots of water.

Don't let your diet scuttle your social life. Eating a hamburger with friends on a night out once a fortnight won't make the world stop turning.

Be realistic and kind to yourself and keep going!

Becoming Fit

"I bought all those Jane Fonda videos. I love to sit and eat cookies and watch them." Dolly Parton

Don't expect to go from 0 - 100 km per hour in 10 seconds. Unrealistic expectations can only lead to disappointment and stop you exercising altogether. Start slowly with a few minutes a day and work your way towards a regular half an hour of daily exercise.

Exercise with a friend as it then becomes a social event.

Choose a method of exercising that you enjoy, because it will be easier to stick to.

Go for a medical checkup if you are over 35. Sudden changes in your daily rituals can be a shock to the body, especially if you have heart or lung problems.


"Death is just nature's way of telling you to slow down." Dick Sharples

Don't stress out about other peoples' problems. If you do, they don't have to do it themselves.

Break a problem up into bits and pieces and learn to delegate some responsibilities. If you are a busy executive, the broken fax machine is someone else's responsibility.

Consider meditation, tai chi, aromatherapy and regular exercise as possible stress relievers.

Listen to your body's warning signals such as insomnia, heartburn headaches, skin disorders and constant feelings of anxiety. Don't wait until your immune system throws in the towel before you take a break.

Smoking and Drinking

"I exercise strong self-control. I never drink anything stronger than gin before breakfast."W.C. Fields

"It is easy to stop smoking. I do it every morning"Anonymous

This is a tough one. Be kind to yourself and call in help. Remember that strong people go for help. If your problem is serious, don't try and do it all by yourself.

If you are merely trying to cut down, however, help is at hand.

Keep on trying. Don't be discouraged by a single lapse.

A visit to the lung cancer ward should be quite a motivator to stop smoking.

Speak to others who have quit smoking and drinking. Find out what worked for them.

Do it for yourself, not because others are pressurising you.

Find a new activity on which to focus your attention. Find a less harmful substitute to take the place of your habit for a while.

Call in your doctor's help. They will also be able to refer you to organisations that may be able to help.

Reward yourself in small ways for any progress made.

Remember - Rome was not built in a day. Take small steps and reward yourself for goals that you achieve.

And finally, to quote Franklin P. Jones, "Everyone should have a few bad habits so he'll have something he can give up if his health fails."

(Health24, January 2010)

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