Every year millions of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions to (fill in resolution here). Problem is, by mid-January those self-made promises are forgotten as we fall into old patterns, figuring we’d try again next year. Some of the top resolutions, the same top resolutions that are apparently destined for failure?
Drink Less Alcohol
Well guess what? This time around, you’re not failing. This year you’re sticking to your resolutions! So why is this year going to be different? Because you are going to go about it differently: with a plan.
-Set a New Year’s “Intention,” Instead of a New Year’s “Resolution”
-Really Think about What’s the Point
-Be Honest and Realistic With Yourself
-Don’t Let Weakness Derail You
-Work Out. Yes, Exercise.
So how do each of the above go into play?
NEW YEAR’S “INTENTION”
When you “resolve” to do something, you are making a firm decision, a declaration, a promise, you are stating a decree. Well that’s the idea of it anyway. But somewhere along the way we have become fine with setting this “firm” resolution… and then not following through. Since a “New Year’s Resolution” seems to no longer hold much weight, it’s time to give it a new name, and with that new name, the intention is to also revitalize its authority. You see, an “intention” isn’t as daunting as a “resolution,” it feels more flexible, with the ability to more easily slip into your life. We tend to more compliantly follow suggestions rather than rules, gentle nudges rather than forceful requirements. An intention allows us to do our best to achieve it, but we won’t be kicking ourselves in the shins if we don’t. Creating an intention board can help.
WHAT’S THE POINT?
Think about, no, more than think about, write down your goals. Why do you want to get fit, lose weight, be happier, stop smoking, drink less alcohol, stress less, increase your energy? What are your short and long terms intentions/resolutions/goals? You need both and I’ll tell you why: Your Short-Term Intentions are like the stepping stones, the bricks along a path… that lead to your Long-Term Intentions. Setting an intention, both short and long term, is one of the best ways to succeed because you have designated short-term goals that you can more quickly and easily achieve, allowing you to see progress quickly. The key is to devise a plan that will efficiently take you from point A to B (short term), which eventually will bring you to Z (long term).
BE HONEST AND REALISTIC WITH YOURSELF
Having lofty goals is great! But having lofty unattainable goals… not so much. Problem is, if you set your sights too high, you are more likely to fail. Yes, “shoot for the stars and you might accidentally land on the moon” is absolutely a great inspirational concept. However, let’s be realistic here. Little failures too easily derail us to the extent of giving up all together. So be honest with what you want and what you can achieve. Use the short and long term intention formula to help you- letting the short-term intentions serve as stepping stones towards your long-term intention. Think about your lifestyle and how you are willing and able to alter it in order to make room for the fulfillment of your intentions. And more than anything else, once those intentions are set and you are full-steam-ahead, if you have little setbacks, be understanding of yourself. I’m not saying that it’s okay to let yourself slack off, but don’t be too rigid either. You’re human.
DON’T LET WEAKNESS DERAIL YOU
It’s time to start paying attention to your weaknesses and the little things that derail your progress… then rewire how you handle them. If you want to take control of your life, you’ve got to take control of your response to weakness. And that’s the real test because, well, when you’re weak, it’s hard to be strong, no matter how badly you want to be. If you’re just having one of those days when an ego-deflating comment derails you and you turn to a red velvet cupcake, a cigarette, a drink, maybe you need to check that response, and come up with an alternative that will help keep your intention on target.
More than helping to fulfill both the intentions of “Getting Fit” and “Losing Weight,” exercise can help you feel happier, quit smoking, minimize your alcohol consumption, stress less, and increase your energy. How? Read: Make up your mind and your body will follow.
-Exercise is known to help you Lose Weight and Get Fit by improving cardio function (translation: strengthening your heart), toning your muscles, and improving your health as a whole.
-Exercise can help you to Quit Smoking. How? You realize that you have a hard time breathing while working out, illuminating the real effect that smoking has on your body. It’s like a wake-up call. Read: Balding, Wrinkles & Oral Cancer… Smoking Sure is Sexy
-Exercise can help you to Drink Less Alcohol. After a late night out, the next morning, will be hard to wrangle yourself out of bed and into your sneakers. Your head may still be foggy. Your body may beg for you to turn back and get back in bed. But you will push yourself to continue- you made it this far so you may as well keep it up. Ten minutes into it, as you elevate your heart rate, move blood into your muscles and begin to break a sweat, the stench of the booze from the night before will emanate from your pores- you are detoxing that nastiness out… it’s a good thing. After an hour your body will be more awake than you’ve felt in a long time (which is often an odd feeling if your mind is still half asleep… which happens sometimes). Loving the feeling of the natural high and seeing your body start to slim down and your muscles tone up, you will be less likely to let yourself go so party-hardy at night knowing that you have a hard workout ahead of you the next am. You will learn how good it feels to feel good (and not hungover and bloated).
-Exercise can help Minimize Stress. More than that euphoric feeling from knowing that you are working to better yourself, increasing your self-esteem, and achieving mini-goals with every completed session; working out chemically calms you. When you exercise, your blood starts pumping faster through your veins, you take deeper, more cleansing and detoxifying breaths, and your brain releases endorphins- your body’s natural “feel good” chemicals. It’s those same chemicals that some refer to as “runner’s high.” In fact, “runner’s high” can last much longer than the duration of your actual exercise routine. Some exercisers experience a lightened mood for up to 48 hours after the workout session ends. Yoga, in particular, has been shown to help harness stress both physically and emotionally. With a focus on the breath, using either an inhale of exhale to power and move through each pose, both meditative and aerobic forms of yoga can have profound effects on stress levels, having an effect that lasts beyond the mat.
-Exercise can Increase Your Energy. Odd but true, exhausting yourself during a “good” workout, the kind that leaves you wet with sweat and your muscles sore in the morning, actually energizes both your body and mind. Yes, people who workout tend to have more energy throughout the day, even if they had to wake up early in the morning to slip those 60-minutes of sweating in, then those who snooze instead.
In the end, it’s up to you to stick with your New Year’s Intentions. But if you set realistic goals, create a plan to achieve them and can clearly see the benefits that you will reap in the end, it makes it much easier to succeed. Let’s face it; cheating is only lying to yourself. Stop standing in the way of your own success just because you’re afraid of failure. The only person you are competing with is your. Prove to yourself that you can do this. Because you can.