Dr. Kevin Most: New Year’s Resolutions
Ok, well it is January 7th, and we are just checking in to see how many of you have already broken your NY resolution? Don’t be upset, estimates are that over 92% of all resolutions are broken before February, so don’t feel bad. The biggest thing with health resolutions is we expect to break a bad habit overnight. There is nothing magical about Dec 31- Jan 1 that will make you more successful with a resolution.
Here are the most common resolutions to be broken.
- Lose weight and exercise- this is one that is broken the fastest. 60% of gym memberships that get signed in January are not used at all and a larger number are ignored by mid-February.
- Quit smoking only 15% of those who make this resolution are still smoke free by June
- Eat healthier- old habits and cooking methods are difficult to break. Simple tip is eat food with one name that does not come wrapped, think tomato
- Get more sleep. This is one we should all follow, yet only 1 in 3 of us do. If you are between18 and 60 you should be getting 7 hours of sleep each night
- Drink less alcohol- this is often said first thing in the morning on NY Day and is ignored at the Bloody Mary bar for the first Bowl game that day
A popular new concept is micro resolutions, this is one that physicians support as they are manageable and may have some lasting health effects on both you and the people around you. It is pretty simple, instead of setting a single resolution, you set 12 resolutions, one for each month. The individual then has a goal of 30 days to stay on track for the resolution. These are much easier to complete as the time frame is not forever it has a set time frame and is easily understood and tracked. Success in each of these impacts a few things, one is the sense of accomplishment versus failure. It also has the opportunity for a possible continuation of the goal in some fashion. This concept also gives the individual time to plan for the upcoming month as well as possibly prepare for the next 30 day challenge.
Think about the individual who says the NY resolution is to exercise every day, but currently they don’t exercise at all. This is a set up for a complete failure and once the failure occurs the individual often stops even trying. Change that resolution to, in April I will exercise for 30 min a day for 15 days of the month. This is now a resolution that is manageable and can be hit even if you miss the first few days.
Make your own calendar, here are a couple to consider.
- One month with no fast food- this will impact your weight, blood pressure and wallet
- One month of avoiding sweets/ desserts
- One month of no screen time in the Kitchen or at dinner
- One month of taking a walk after dinner
- One month of doing a crossword puzzle or soduko each day
- One month of giving up Facebook
- One month of saving $5 per day- this is only $150 but for the year it would approach $2,000
- One month of weekend micro vacations with the kids
- One month of learning a new word each day from a foreign language
- One month of dieting where you count your calories
- One month of decreasing your smoking habits
- One month of a fruit or vegetable with every meal
- One month of going to sleep 1 hour earlier than you normally do
- One month of volunteering
- One month of making a weekly donation to a local foodbank
- One month of not doing work emails from home
- One month of decreased alcohol intake
- One month of reading at least 4 books a week
- One month of parking at the far end of any parking lot
- One month of taking a friend to lunch at least once a week
Each one of these could have been a grand single resolution that probably would have been broken and left you with a sense of failure. With a shorter focus and a goal that is reachable, you will find that not only can you hit these resolutions but that portions of them will be sustainable and continued thru the year. You may not read 4 books a month, but you may read one. You may not totally quit smoking but the sense of accomplishment that month may lead you to decrease your smoking. The month without fast food may remind you how expensive that is and how nice it is to bring a lunch to work with foods you want.
Think about some personal goals you may have but don’t have the confidence you could sustain them, make that list. It is also a great conversation piece that when shared you will see others actually helping you and supporting you thru that month. Consider telling your friends that this month you are working on eliminating 4 cigarettes a day, they will be supportive and perhaps not encouraging you to go out for a smoke. Who knows your micro resolution may have a halo effect on your friends and family as they may follow the same monthly challenge.
So I am recommending you sit with a calendar and pick out 12 micro resolutions for the year, I bet you will make a bigger impact on your health than you do for the 6 days in January when you tried a single unobtainable resolution.