New Year, New Mentality

Bree Maloney, Communications Manager

The start of a new year is exciting. New Year’s resolutions can create a sense of motivation and hope for taking control of your health and bettering the year ahead. Having this ‘New Year, New You’’ reset is often good, however, if you fall short on taking action to make change or reach your goals, you may feel a sense of failure. This might even make you engage in more negative thoughts, which are unmotivating altogether thus negatively affecting our neurochemistry. Creating and even thinking about making new resolutions can often create stress, leaving you overwhelmed, or depressed. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be a certain way or to stop/start habits, and when we fail to keep our resolutions – which more than 90 percent of us do – we then feel the weight of those negative feelings.

Making healthy changes is a good thing and worth striving for, but the key to keeping resolutions is readjusting your approach and mentality in the following ways. These can set you up for greater success. 

  1. Strive for progress not perfection: Most people who set goals to be more ‘perfect’ in their life, such as obtaining the ‘perfect body’ tend to lose their sense of self and quit as soon as they realize they can’t be ‘perfect.’ The best and easiest way to become healthier is to create lifelong habits. Diets don’t work, but healthy eating habits that are sustainable for the long run do. Exercising for 3 weeks then quitting won’t do anything for your longevity, but exercising for 3 days a week for a longer period of time will. Focus on the progress of your goals and reward yourself often!

  2. Give yourself grace and time: It takes time to see changes both physically or mentally and it often takes months to see significant change in your appearance. While a ‘quick fix’ is desirable, when it comes to fitness and diet, one doesn’t exist. Obsessing about what the scale shows adds to the time crunch. “Our weight fluctuates every day and even throughout the day. When we start working out, our body composition changes, meaning we are losing body fat, while gaining muscle,” says Dr. Nathan Kiskila of Marque Urgent Care. “The number on the scale may not change,” he said, “but you will notice your clothes fitting better, and that means you are losing inches because you are losing fat and replacing it with muscle, which is much leaner.”

  3. Drop the need for a gym: Though joining a gym can be a sign that you’re taking your health resolutions seriously, exercise doesn’t have to take place at a gym.  Think of your exercise resolution as just moving your body more. Thirty minutes of movement a day is all it takes to improve your mood, reduce your stress, and more. Find ways to move that you enjoy, such as a walk, bike ride, or streamed workout video. 

  4. Create specific goals: Creating specific goals is better than general ones. Like saying ‘I want to lose 5 pounds by January 31st’ is a much better goal than ‘I want to lose weight.’ When I used to coach girls volleyball I had them create SMART goals. To make goals SMART, follow these guidelines:
    S: Specific
    M: Measurable
    A: Attainable
    R: Relevant
    T: Time-based

    Once you have created your SMART goal, list the steps/plan you need to take in order to reach your goal. For example, a SMART goal for diet resolutions/habits to create might include:
    S: Cut soda and juice out of my diet
    M: Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day
    A: Eat protein at every meal
    R: Eat complex carbs in place of simple carbs
    T: Eat fruits and vegetables every day

  5. Make a list of what’s working and not working: As you work toward your resolution, create a list of what you’re struggling with, then pick one item to focus on and establish a new plan to make it less of a struggle. For example if you’re struggling to fit exercise into your busy schedule, put the exercise session into your calendar and keep that ‘appointment’ just as you would with a client or boss. If eating too many snacks throughout the day is your struggle, start a food diary on paper or download a fitness or meal tracking app. Knowing that you have to write down every single thing you eat, including that handful of pretzels you grabbed out of the pantry, will make you more mindful about what you are putting in your mouth. Once you have conquered your struggle, move it to the ‘what has been working well’ list, and tackle the next item on your ‘struggle’ list. 

Remember to not overwhelm yourself by trying to focus on too many things at once. Make it simple, create a simple and obtainable plan, and move on to the next once you feel you have created a good habit. While kicking off a goal at the start of the new year is tempting, don’t put so much weight on January. New Year’s resolutions can affect mental health when they don’t go according to our plans. Give yourself some breathing room and begin the new year with a positive mindset and remember to make obtainable goals and resolutions! Let 2023 be the best year yet!

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.

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